The Western Hockey League has made neck guards mandatory after Adam Johnson, pictured with the Pittsburgh Penguins, died Oct. 28 from a cut by a skate in his neck during a game in England. COURTESY PHOTO, NHL

The Western Hockey League has made neck guards mandatory after Adam Johnson, pictured with the Pittsburgh Penguins, died Oct. 28 from a cut by a skate in his neck during a game in England. COURTESY PHOTO, NHL

WHL makes neck guards mandatory for Kent-based T-Birds, rest of teams

Decision comes just days after death of hockey player in England from skate cut to neck

The Western Hockey League, which includes the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds, announced that neck guard protection will be mandatory for all players.

The Nov. 1 announcement comes just days after the death of American hockey player Adam Johnson, 29, whose neck was cut by a skate blade from an opposing player during an Oct. 28 game in England.

The new policy becomes effective Nov. 3 or as soon as the protective equipment is available to clubs. The Calgary, Alberta-based WHL has 22 teams, 16 in Western Canada and six in the Pacific Northwest.

“All WHL players will be required to wear protective neck guard equipment at all times while participating in on-ice activities, including WHL games and practices,” according to the statement.

The WHL said it anticipates challenges in delivery of protective neck guard equipment from licensed suppliers due to increased demand following the tragic passing of Johnson.

Johnson, a Minnesota native, spent 13 games over parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL, according to Associated Press. He was playing for the Nottingham Panthers of England’s Elite Ice Hockey League when the accident occurred.


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