Lightning’s Cole Koepke chooses to wear a neck guard after Adam Johnson’s death

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Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cole Koepke is taking extra care after the death of former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Adam Johnson last month. Koepke chooses to wear a neck guard in the future to protect himself from being cut by a skateboard blade.

“I knew Adam of course,” Koepke told the Associated Press after the Lightning’s morning skate Monday. “A lot to take in … momentum. shock Really awesome.”

“It doesn’t bother me to wear the neck guard, so I don’t see a reason not to,” Koepke said. “It seems like the right thing to do.”

Koepke is the first Lightning player to wear a neck guard. Currently, the NHL does not mandate players wear a neck guard while on the ice. But the 25-year-old believes more players will choose to wear them in the future.

In the second period of last month’s game between the Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers, Johnson was cut by the skate blade of Steelers forward Matt Petgrave after a collision. Johnson received medical treatment on the ice and was transported to an area hospital before being pronounced dead.

The incident was initially described as a “serious accident,” but Petgrave was later arrested on suspicion of murder. Petgrave has since released on bail.

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