In the wake of the tragic passing of Adam Johnson, the NHL community has been engaged in a significant dialogue concerning player safety, particularly the use of neck protection. This discussion has extended into the Florida Panthers’ locker room.
Adam Johnson, a former forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins who had been playing in England for the Nottingham Panthers, tragically lost his life after suffering a severe neck injury from a skate during a game.
Florida Panthers’ captain Sasha Barkov spoke about the gravity of the situation, stating, “It’s a very serious thing. If you have that option, you should really consider it.”
With the physical nature of hockey often leading to players becoming airborne during collisions, many NHL players have already embraced additional safety measures.
- Advertisement -
Prominent players like Jake Walman of the Detroit Red Wings, T.J. Oshie from the Washington Capitals, and Erik Karlsson of the Pittsburgh Penguins have chosen to wear neck guards during NHL games.
“Hockey players are very particular with their gear,” Walman explained. “But for this reason, it’s different. Comfort is important, but protection comes first.”
While the NHL has not mandated the use of neck protection, other leagues have already implemented this safety measure.
However, the feasibility of this move is challenged by the limited availability of such equipment. Manufacturers are currently struggling to meet the sudden surge in demand.
In the three games the Panthers have played since Johnson’s tragic passing on October 28, no player has worn a neck guard. Nevertheless, discussions have taken place in the locker room, and many believe that the use of neck guards may become mandatory in the future.
- Advertisement -
Evan Rodrigues expressed his expectation that this trend will continue to grow. “Kids wear it, I wore it growing up, and I think it will become a thing that will become mandatory like visors now. You definitely want to protect yourself, and I know almost every guy in the room now wears cut protection wrist guards, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a matter of time guys start putting on neck guards.”
This initiative echoes a prior NHL effort, when they encouraged players to wear protective wrist guards and socks after an incident involving Evander Kane being cut in the wrist brought attention to the issue.
The adoption of new protective equipment has encountered resistance due to concerns about comfort. Nevertheless, technology has made strides, incorporating wrist guards into undershirts that are lightweight and do not impede players’ performance.
- Advertisement -
The discussion around neck and wrist protection underscores the evolving nature of player safety in the NHL and the role of individual choice. Players are increasingly aware that added protection can help them stay on the ice and contribute to the team.
As technology advances and more protective gear becomes available, it may not be long before players in the NHL, including the Florida Panthers, fully embrace the use of neck guards.
The tragic passing of Adam Johnson has cast a spotlight on player safety in the NHL, with a particular emphasis on neck protection. The devastating injury suffered by Johnson, a former forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while playing in England has sparked a significant dialogue within the NHL community.
It’s heartening to see players like Sasha Barkov and prominent figures in the league acknowledging the seriousness of the issue and advocating for additional safety measures.
The fact that players like Jake Walman, T.J. Oshie, and Erik Karlsson have already chosen to wear neck guards during NHL games highlights the growing importance of prioritizing protection over comfort.
While the NHL has yet to mandate the use of neck protection, the discussions and expectations within the Florida Panthers’ locker room suggest a shift towards making it mandatory in the future.
The willingness of players to embrace new protective gear, such as wrist guards and now potentially neck guards, demonstrates the evolving landscape of player safety in the NHL and underscores the players’ commitment to staying on the ice and contributing to their teams.
As technology continues to advance and manufacturers address the demand for these safety measures, it’s likely that the use of neck guards will become more widespread in the NHL, ultimately enhancing player safety.