Johnson tragedy: Martin St-Louis opens up regarding equipment changes proposed by some

Published November 2, 2023 at 7:07 PM

The terrible incident that cost Adam Johnson his life last weekend has raised many questions about the use of neck guards in hockey. This protection, which could have saved the life of the former Penguins player, is not commonly worn in professional and amateur hockey.

On Monday, following Johnson's death, the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) declared that wearing a neck guard will be mandatory during 'all ice activities'. In the AHL, players from the Providence Bruins have adopted the neck guard, while the Rochester Americans organization, the farm team of the Buffalo Sabres, has ordered some.

Seeing the magnitude of the issue, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had no choice but to contact the president of the Players' Association, Marty Walsh, to gauge the members' openness regarding the use of this piece of equipment.

Questioned on this matter, the head coach of the CH, Martin St-Louis, expressed strong support for young players, 'those under 18 or 20 years old', to be required to wear this piece of equipment. However, he doubts that current players will agree to approve this regulation, but a 'grandfather clause', similar to the one active for visors, could do the job.

To explain his point, St-Louis reminds us of a scary experience he had when he played without a visor. He feels somewhat foolish for continuing to play without one afterward.

«When I was younger, I took a puck to the eye. To this day, my left eye is still not the same as my right eye. I watch the game today and I wonder how I could have played without a visor.» - Martin St-Louis

When discussing the subject with players, especially the young ones in the organization, they seem open to wearing one but without much enthusiasm. When we know that Jordan Harris has never worn one (it's not mandatory in minor hockey in the United States) and that Kaiden Guhle gladly abandoned this piece of equipment (it made him hot) when he entered professional hockey, we see that their enthusiasm is not at its peak.

One of the few who seems to appreciate the idea is Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. According to what Simon-Olivier Lorange from La Presse reported, he definitely weighs the pros and cons of adding a neck guard to his regular equipment.

«It can happen to anyone,» he said. «Maybe a life could have been saved with a neck guard.»

«You'd have to try it out in practice,» he replied. «It's been a few years since I've put one on, I don't know if it would bother my breathing. But yes, it's an option I will consider.»

«I think everyone in the league is going to think about it,» he concluded. «At any rate, if we have to wear one, I won't contest it, that's for sure.» - Rafaël Harvey-Pinard

November 2   |   180 answers
Johnson tragedy: Martin St-Louis opens up regarding equipment changes proposed by some

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