By Tommy Witt ‘24

A few weeks ago in the European Hockey League, a tragic accident occurred causing Adam Johnson to lose his life. While skating into the zone, an opposing player was tripped, causing him to fly into the air uncontrolled and cutting Johnson in the neck with his skate blade. This is an extremely rare occurrence that turned tragic for the hockey community. Once sliced, Johnson’s teammates and trainers rushed to give him medical attention and transported him to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, too much blood was lost and Johnson passed away.

This incident caused outrage in the hockey community for the usage of neck guards. Johnson was not using a neck guard at the time, sparking this movement. Neck guards are not a new concept. Most youth players are forced to wear them. However, once players turn 18 years old, they no longer choose to wear neck guards. Many players cite the discomfort and look of wearing a neck guard as a reason for not wearing them.

Senior Jake Surma said, “The Adam Johnson case was a tragedy. It hit the hockey community hard.”

Since the incident occurred in early Nov., many leagues and organizations around the world have examined the usage of neck guards. Universities and professional organizations have come out with statements that are giving their players resources to wear neck guards and highly encouraging them to do so.

Sophomore goalie Nick DiPasquale said, “As a hockey player, you never expect to be seriously injured during competition. It’s awful to hear what happened to Adam.”

Since the incident, many companies have sold out of neck guards after concerned parents flocked to online companies to order neck guards for their young players. While USA hockey still has not mandated the use of neck guards, many teams such as the Brother Rice hockey club have begun to mandate them.

The game of hockey has changed drastically over the years. The game continues to adapt with the goal of safety as its top priority. Goalies used to not wear helmets, and players used to not wear visors on helmets. All of that has changed with the times, and so does wearing neck guards.

Sophomore Matt McGuffage said, “Neck guards are an important piece of equipment. I think all teams should wear them to avoid what happened to Adam Johnson.”

What happened to Adam Johnson was nothing short of a tragedy that will hopefully never happen again. Hockey is a fast sport with dangerous outcomes at times, however organizations are doing everything in their power to keep players safe on the ice including adding neck guards as one of the protective requirements for every hockey player.

Sources: https://apnews.com/article/hockey-skate-death-arrest-england-993fbef63971c4483afa48041dd08a30

https://www.therinklive.com/junior-and-prospects/neck-protection-mandate-is-likely-coming-to-usa-hockey

https://www.sportsnet.ca/juniors/article/whl-joins-ohl-qmjhl-in-making-neck-guards-mandatory/