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Ice hockey neck guard requirements to impact student athletes

The+Palo+Alto+ice+hockey+team+play+at+the+San+Jose+State+Universitys+hockey+rink.+These+athletes+will+be+required+to+wear+neck+guards+while+on+the+rink+when+their+season+begins+in+winter+of+this+year.+I+have+two+teammates+that+decided+to+wear+neck+guards+towards+the+end+of+the+season+because+a+former+NHL+player+died+because+of+a+cut+to+the+neck%2C+Weimann+said.+
Kofi Kim
The Palo Alto ice hockey team play at the San Jose State University’s hockey rink. These athletes will be required to wear neck guards while on the rink when their season begins in winter of this year. “I have two teammates that decided to wear neck guards towards the end of the season because a former NHL player died because of a cut to the neck,” Weimann said.

Palo Alto ice hockey athletes who are under the age of 18 will now be required to wear neck guards when on the ice.

The change comes after the USA Hockey Congress passed a law that requires all ice hockey players who are minors to wear neck guards while on the ice. The requirement was instated following a skate blade accident killing ice hockey player Adam Johnson during a Challenge Cup match on Oct. 28. His death promoted awareness around athlete safety, leading England Ice Hockey to announce neck protection requirements for all its players just days after the event.

The rule will be enacted starting Aug 1. Senior Takumi Weimann, who plays for Palo Alto ice hockey team, says the change will be difficult for athletes.

“I always wear a neck guard because of safety concerns and my parents, but I know the majority of my team doesn’t wear one,” Weimann said. “It will be a big shift.”

Another player on the team, Sam Janik, also expressed concern about the change.

“I don’t [wear a neck guard] right now, mostly just for comfort,” Janik said. “I thought it was kind of uncomfortable. But I think it’s definitely a good idea to require them.  It’s a risk not to wear them.”

Though rare, neck injuries in ice hockey happen — and when they do, they can be fatal. Injured players can bleed out, which is what happened in Johnson’s case.

Palo Alto ice hockey coach Craig Janik has been involved with the sport for 40 years and says that the change is important for athlete safety.

“Neck injuries are like shark attacks and plane crashes — low frequency but extremely unpleasant,” Janik stated in an email to The Paly Voice. “A neck guard, especially one that is part of an underwear garment, has no impact on performance or comfort. It’s a good idea to mandate it.”

Weimann supports the new precautions and looks forward to seeing the change come into effect in the next season.

“They [the safety precautions] are important, especially in a sport that’s so fast-paced and physical,” Weimann said. “Overall, even though it may be uncomfortable, it’s worth it.”

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About the Contributor
Motoko Iwata, Opinion/Editorial Editor
Motoko Iwata (Class of 2026) joined The Voice in her sophomore year. At Paly, she does badminton and debate. In her free time, Motoko enjoys spending time with her friends and reading about current events.

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