English Ice Hockey Association making neck guards mandatory in 2024
The English Ice Hockey Association, the governing body of hockey in England and Wales, says it will be mandatory for its players to wear a neck guard during "all on-ice activities," beginning in 2024.
The announcement, made days after Nottingham Panthers forward Adam Johnson died after his neck was cut by a skate blade during a game in England, was made on the association's website as part of a larger safety initiative.
"As in all sports, the safety of our players must take precedence above all else," the statement read. "We are firmly committed to our obligation to exhaust every possible means to ensure that a tragic incident of this nature never befalls our sport again."
The EIHA's short-term plan calls for a “strong recommendation” that all players at all levels across English hockey use an approved neck guard in all on ice activities "without alterations and as directed by the manufacturers’ specification." The recommendation is in place until Dec. 31, after which it will become a mandatory requirement. The association added that it is not mandatory with immediate effect because of anticipated supply issues. This will be under constant review between now and mandatory implementation.
Over the next 12 months, the association said it will, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, conduct a thorough review of player safety equipment including, but not limited to, the use of helmets, mouthguards and facial protection, and the application of IIHF rules.
The EIHA added that it will, "provide its membership with clear guidance on the ongoing and continuous improvement of Player Safety and their duties within this area," including the requirement for all clubs to be able to, "demonstrate that they proactively manage Player Safety within their organizations."
Johnson was playing for the Nottingham Panthers in a Challenge Cup game against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday when he suffered the skate cut during the second period of the Elite Ice Hockey League game.
The Minnesota native spent 13 games over parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL before spending the 2020-21 season in Sweden with the Malmo Redhawks.