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VIJHL hockey team announces mandatory neck guards following death in England

Neck guards will be mandatory for one Vancouver Island Junior Hockey Team following the death of a former NHL player in England.

Adam Johnson, who formerly played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, died on Saturday while playing for the Nottingham Panthers in a “freak accident” during a game, suffering a cut to the neck.

Following the incident, the Saanich Predators have announced the mandatory use of neck guards for their players in every VIJHL game. They add team ownership will purchase neck guards for all team members.

“In light of the tragic loss of Adam Johnson this weekend as a result of a ‘freak accident’ while playing for the Nottingham Panthers as a part of the U.K. Elite League’s Challenge Cup, we feel this is the respectful and responsible thing to do, not only for our players but for all hockey families who are saddened by this terrible loss,” said co-owner Norm Kelly in a statement.

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Further north in the VIJHL, Comox Valley Glacier Kings head coach and general manager Mike Nesbitt supports the use of the guard for players.

“Having three boys in hockey, I obviously recommend that guard because I think it’s a pretty big loss not having that neck guard on,” said Nesbitt. “I did have a meeting with my players, and I’d like to see them wear it, we’ll see where the league goes with this.”

He adds there has not been any official announcement from the league and there are no official rules about players needing to wear them.

Nesbitt adds the neck guards are made of Kevlar that wrap around the neck and protect it.

Support for the guards has also been voiced by Haley Wickenheiser, who called for the use of them at every level of hockey in a recent X post.

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