USA Hockey to require neck guards for young players

USA Hockey, the governing body for ice hockey in America, has approved a new rule requiring all young players and young referees to wear neck laceration protection in games in practices.

The new rules – which includes players in youth, girls and junior age classifications – take effect Aug. 1, 2024, USA Hockey says.

"USA Hockey has long recommended the use of neck laceration protection, as well as cut-resistant socks, sleeves or undergarments," USA Hockey said in a news release.

The new rule also "strongly recommends" that adult players use neck laceration protection as well.


FILE - York boys hockey coach Peter Douris, a former NHL player, works with the team during practice on Wednesday. (Staff photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

"Safety is always at the forefront of our conversations and the action of our Congress today reflected that," said Mike Trimboli, president of USA Hockey.

RELATED: Adam Johnson death: Suspect released on bail in England

The organization began the process of changing the rules in November following the death of American hockey player Adam Johnson. Johnson died after his neck was cut by a skate blade during a game in England. He was 29.


The LED board shows a tribute to Adam Johnson prior to the Adam Johnson Memorial Game between Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm at Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on November 18, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

An arrest was made in connection with his death. 

Neck protectors and other gear for wrist and leg protection are widely available and have long been recommended, though nothing guarantees safety. Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Adam Fantilli was recently cut by a skate blade in the back of his left leg, causing him to miss the rest of that game and another game as well. Fantilli was wearing Kevlar socks, but the blade sliced through.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.