The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced on Wednesday that neck guard protection is to be worn by all players following the death of former NHL player Adam Johnson.
The former NHL player suffered a fatal slash to the neck during the second period of a game in England over the weekend.
All players will be required to wear neck protection during all on-ice activities including WHL games and practices.
In an email release, the league said it anticipates delays in delivery due to a spike in demand after Johnson’s passing.
The guards will be required as of Friday or as soon as clubs can get their hands on the equipment.
The NHL has not yet confirmed if they will follow suit, but several calls were made to the league earlier in the week, asking that it put rules in place regarding the equipment.
Bauer, which manufactures hockey equipment, called for a mandate on neck protection Monday and the development of new guidelines to ensure the mandate is enforced across leagues of all levels.
While neck guards are not mandatory in the NHL, the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League require players to wear neck guards. It’s also obligatory for Hockey Canada players registered in minor or women’s hockey.
Global News asked the NHL earlier in the week if a mandate would be imposed, but a response was not received by deadline Tuesday.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser called for mandated neck protection at “every level in hockey” Monday. She said not wearing protection poses far too great a risk, even if it’s not in style.
“I know it may not pass the ‘cool’ factor but it’s time for mandatory neck protection at every level in hockey. The risk is far too great not to,” said Wickenheiser in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
– With files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.