Adam Johnson legacy: Ice hockey players urged to wear neck guards after Sheffield tragedy

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Adam Johnson's legacy could be that other lives could be saved following his tragic death.

Ice hockey clubs are bringing in new rules around the wearing of neck guards to protect players following the tragic death of Adam Johnson in Sheffield at the weekend.

Adam Johnson died after a neck injury sustained while playing for Nottingham Panthers against Sheffield Steelers. Johnson formerly played as #47 for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)Adam Johnson died after a neck injury sustained while playing for Nottingham Panthers against Sheffield Steelers. Johnson formerly played as #47 for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Adam Johnson died after a neck injury sustained while playing for Nottingham Panthers against Sheffield Steelers. Johnson formerly played as #47 for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) | (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The 29-year-old Nottingham Panthers forward suffered a horrific injury to his neck caused by a blade during an on-ice collision with a Steelers player at the Utilita Arena Sheffield during a Challenge Cup match.

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Players from both sides surrounded the stricken player while medics battled to save him. Screens were also brought onto the ice and fans were cleared from the arena while the medical emergency was dealt with.

Adam, originally from Minnesota in America, was transported to hospital but was later tragically prounounced dead.

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Fans pay their respects to Adam Johnson in NottinghamFans pay their respects to Adam Johnson in Nottingham
Fans pay their respects to Adam Johnson in Nottingham | Anita Maric / SWNS

Numerous clubs have issued posts about making neck guards mandatory following Adam's death.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy said: "In light of the tragic events at the weekend, where Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson lost his life in a game against the Steelers right here in Sheffield in a terrible accident, the committee and coaching staff at Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy are announcing today that we will make neck guards mandatory for all players in games and at training.

"As many of you will know, the use of neck guards is already mandatory for all juniors. We are now extending this to include all senior players that play at the Academy, which includes the Sheffield Titans and Sheffield Scimitars, regardless of the players' age.

"We salute the other clubs and teams in the UK that have introduced similar measures.

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"The safety of our players is at the forefront of everything we do, and we wish to both honour Adam and protect all of our players in ensuring that we take every action to minimise the chance that the terrible events of Saturday night are ever repeated.

"The mandatory wearing of neck guards for all players will be implemented immediately, though there is currently a shortage of adequate equipment in the UK. We are working hard with UK ice hockey equipment suppliers to ensure that enough equipment of a high standard is made available as soon as possible.

"We are grateful to these suppliers for their help, and also to all the parents and players who have expressed support for this measure. The ice hockey community is small but fierce in our commitment to one another, and there is no better way to express this, and to honour Adam's memory than to take every possible measure to ensure that everyone who loves this sport can play it in the safest possible environment. Thank you, and love to everyone at this time."

The English Ice Hockey Association posted: "Undoubtedly, this moment in time casts a sombre shadow upon our global sporting community, serving as a stark reminder of our collective responsibilities as custodians of the sport.

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"As in all sports, the safety of our players must take precedence above all else. We are firmly committed to our obligation to exhaust every possible means to ensure that a tragic incident of this nature never befalls our sport again."

It has made a "strong recommendation" that all players at all levels across English ice hockey use an approved neck guard/ protector.

After December 31 it will become a mandatory requirement.

It is not mandatory with immediate effect due to anticipated supply issues.

The association added: "Our responsibility is not only to avert the recurrence of such a heartbreaking accident, but also to pre-emptively address other foreseeable incidents in the future."

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