Greg Wyshynski, ESPNNov 1, 2023, 02:50 PM ET
- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL author.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The NHL and NHL Gamers’ Affiliation are in discussions about further security measures following the death of Adam Johnson over the weekend.
Johnson, 29, was enjoying for the Nottingham Panthers in England’s Elite Ice Hockey League on Saturday when his throat was lower throughout a collision with a Sheffield Steelers participant in what the Panthers known as a “freak accident.” He obtained medical therapy on the ice and was taken to Sheffield’s Northern Common Hospital, the place he died.
Johnson performed for the Pittsburgh Penguins and three AHL groups throughout his profession.
The incident sparked renewed curiosity in neck guards for gamers in any respect ranges of hockey — together with whether or not they need to grow to be a compulsory a part of an NHL participant’s tools. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan informed reporters Tuesday that the group will mandate neck protection for its AHL and ECHL golf equipment and urge gamers on the NHL degree to do the identical.
On the day after Johnson died, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman known as NHLPA government director Marty Walsh to open a dialog about further cut-resistant safety for gamers.
“Whether or not it is one thing that is mandated instantly or on a phased-in foundation, that is one thing we’ll talk about with the gamers’ affiliation,” mentioned Bettman, talking after a Stadium Sequence information convention at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday.
Bettman mentioned the NHL does not “impose tools adjustments with out the settlement” of the NHLPA. He mentioned the league desires to prioritize safety however added that NHL gamers have the precise to make some selections for themselves.
Walsh mentioned these discussions have simply began among the many gamers. After talking with Bettman, Walsh reached out to Joe Reekie, a former NHL defenseman who heads the union’s participant security initiatives. Reekie and his counterpart on the NHL will converse on the All-Star Sport in Toronto in February about subsequent steps for neck guards and different security measures.
“We will discover the whole lot,” Walsh mentioned. “It is within the fast aftermath of a tragedy. I believe we now have to proceed to have conversations on this as we transfer ahead right here. It is a change for the gamers, nevertheless it’s additionally about defending them, so I believe we could have these conversations as we transfer ahead right here.”
Philadelphia Flyers basic supervisor Daniel Briere performed 17 years within the NHL. He mentioned neck guards might be the following evolution for NHL participant tools.
“I do know there have been some accidents through the years, and the tragic one which simply occurred final weekend. Hopefully it opens our eyes to offering extra safety for the gamers,” Briere mentioned.
Bettman mentioned the neck guard challenge hasn’t been moved to the front-burner due to Johnson’s dying. He mentioned the NHL and NHLPA have been finding out methods to higher defend gamers from skate cuts for a while in a joint committee.
“We have been finding out, with the gamers’ affiliation, cut-resistant supplies,” Bettman mentioned. “It is not one thing new. Finally it is one thing that, if we will require extra, we and the gamers’ affiliation want to return to an understanding on.
“Sadly this was a freak prevalence, nevertheless it’s one thing that we have been taking a look at when it comes to cuts to the wrist, cuts to the leg and worse, and it is one thing we will proceed to debate and proceed to review.”
Bettman acknowledged that reaching consensus with the gamers on obligatory security measures can take some time. He cited the yearslong “schooling course of” concerned in mandating visors on helmets, which was lastly handed for the 2013-14 season.
“It did not occur in a single day. Clearly, we respect the gamers’ view on this,” Bettman mentioned.
Briere mentioned he expects there shall be resistance from inside the NHLPA — at the very least at first.
“It is all the time powerful to vary, proper? We’re resistant to vary. That is simply the human nature. I perceive,” he mentioned. “However sadly you are all the time ready for one thing tragic to occur for change to return, and hopefully we do not have to attend for one more one.”