Hockey players in international games will soon be required to wear neck laceration protectors on the ice, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced on Monday.
While the exact date that the mandate will go into effect has not been specified, it will apply to all senior games, as well as under-20 and under-18 international games. This will include the Olympics and men’s and women’s world championships.
The call has been growing for neck protectors to be mandated across the sport of hockey following an on-ice incident that led to the death of former NHL player Adam Johnson.
“The IIHF Council, on recommendation from its Medical Committee, has decided to mandate the use of a neck laceration protector, specifically designed for this purpose, at all levels of IIHF competitions,” the IIHF said in a statement on Monday.
“The neck laceration protectors are now mandatory for the senior categories in addition to the U20 and U18 categories, for which neck laceration protectors had already been enforced as per IIHF Official Rule Book.”
The sporting body noted that the date for when the new law goes into effect for senior categories will be determined by the supply of neck protectors in the market. The IIHF said it has been in touch with suppliers to deal with an increased demand for the protective gear.
In the meantime, the body has recommended that neck laceration protectors be worn by hockey players in all IIHF events.
The debate around neck protectors picked up in recent months after the death of former NHL player Johnson in England. The American athlete, who appeared in 13 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, died after a “freak accident” during a game in October.
The 29-year-old Minnesota native was playing for the Nottingham Panthers in a Challenge Cup game against the Sheffield Steelers when he suffered a slashed neck during the second period of the game at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.
Many voices, including former hockey greats, have called for neck protectors to be mandated across the sport following Johnson’s death.
The new mandate will not apply to professional leagues, including the NHL.
— with files from The Associated Press.
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