Adam Johnson: Elite Ice Hockey League 'recommends' neck guards but not mandatory

Adam Johnson: Elite Ice Hockey League 'recommends' neck guards but not mandatory

The EIHL is the highest level of ice hockey in the UK and is separate from the English Ice Hockey Association, which announced a change in regulations on Tuesday that will make it mandatory for players to wear a neck guard during "all on-ice activities" from the start of 2024.

The EIHA is the sport's governing body in England and Wales, with almost 400 teams at junior and senior level below the Elite League. Under current rules, players in the UK do not have to play with neck guards once they turn 18.

Sheffield's senior coroner Tanyka Rawden offered her "sincere condolences" to the family and friends of Johnson as an inquest into his death was opened and adjourned on Friday.

Mrs Rawden confirmed personal details about the player, including that he was from Minnesota in the United States, and gave very brief details of how he died, before adjourning the inquest until January 26.

The 29-year-old Johnson was playing for the Panthers at rivals Sheffield Steelers on Saturday when he was reportedly hit in the throat by an opponent's skate, causing a fatal injury.

About 8,000 fans watched in horror as attempts were made to save Johnson's life as he lay on the ice at Sheffield's Utilita Arena, shielded by fellow players.

The Panthers described the incident as a "freak accident" when the club confirmed his death on Sunday. South Yorkshire Police are investigating the incident but officers have said the inquiry "will take some time".

A spokesperson for Elite Ice Hockey League said on Thursday night: "We are devastated by the loss of Adam's life, and our thoughts remain with his family, team-mates and everyone else affected during this difficult time.

"Player safety and welfare is our top priority and we work with players, officials, clubs, and the relevant authorities to review research and advice to understand how we continually enhance the safety of our sport.

"All clubs continue to follow the existing guidance from the International Ice Hockey Federation, that the use of a BNQ or other ISO Standard neck laceration protector is recommended. The Elite Ice Hockey League strongly encourages players and officials to wear one and clubs and the League will continue to support players and officials to do so."

On Wednesday, the Panthers invited fans of all clubs to attend Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena to celebrate Johnson on November 4. The venue has been the focus of fans' outpouring of shock and emotion since the tragedy.

Following Johnson's death, the club said: "We are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield. The club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him.

"Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great team-mate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him.

"The Panthers would like to send our thoughts and condolences to Adam's family, his partner, and all his friends at this extremely difficult time.

"Everyone at the club including players, staff, management and ownership are heartbroken at the news of Adam's passing."

The Panthers have also announced the creation of an official fundraising page to raise money for the Love for Hibbing and Hockey Memorial Fund - established in Johnson's memory.

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