Washington Capitals forward TJ Oshie wore a neck guard during Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders, marking the latest response to the tragic death of former NHL player Adam Johnson.
Oshie, 36, owns Warroad Hockey, the company that makes the shirt that includes the neck guard. Those shirts claim to include “blade resistant technology” made with a type of yarn that’s allegedly “15 times stronger than steel.”
Oshie’s Capitals lost 3-0 to the Islanders, but the veteran forward helped create a would-be goal that was nullified by a challenge, so it’s hard to argue that the neck guard bothered him much in-game.
Via Sammi Silber, Oshie said he didn’t even notice the neck guard after his first shift.
Other NHL players experiment with neck guards, some leagues make them mandatory
Other players and teams are also experimenting with neck guards. Oshie’s Capitals teammate Tom Wilson tried one out during Thursday’s morning skate. Sportsnet notes that these members of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets have also at least practiced with neck guards.
Penguins: Erik Karlsson, Lars Eller, Ryan Graves and Marcus Pettersson.
jets: Vladislav Namestnikov, Rasmus Kupari, Cole Perfetti and Nikolaj Ehlers.
The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington notes that Sabers defenseman Rasmus Dahlin played a portion of Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with a neck guard, but found it too warm and eventually removed it.
“I want someone to develop a nice, breathable neck guard,” Dahlin said. “I think (in) the future it’s going to be a must.”
Right now, neck guards aren’t mandatory in the NHL and NHLPA members would need to vote in such a change. Although NHL executive Bill Daly said he put neck guards “on the radar” of the players’ union, these athletes can be a stubborn bunch. Consider how many players resisted wearing helmets or visors when those changes happened, including those who were “grandfathered in.”
NHL players get to remain creatures of habit if they want (at least for now), but many other leagues are making neck guards mandatory. While the OHL and QMJHL already required neck guards, the WHL followed suit after Johnson’s death. Teams like the Penguins are also making neck guards mandatory at lower levels.
Ideally, most NHL players would take this added precaution, but it could take some time for others to follow Oshie’s lead.