NHL, NHLPA examine protective gear options after tragic death of Penguin Adam Johnson
Following the death of former Pittsburgh Penguin Adam Johnson, the NHL and NHL Players Association are looking into their options for more protective gear, especially for areas like the neck and wrists. Johnsonand the NHL hopes to avoid another such tragedy in the future.
League Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to reporters at Metlife Stadium for Wednesday’s Stadium Series press conference, and was asked about additional protective equipment. Bettman said it may take some time, but he hopes the NHL and NHLPA will reach a solution soon.
“Whether it’s something that’s directly mandated or phased in, that’s something we’ll be talking about with the players’ association,” Bettman said, according to ESPN.
Marty Walsh, the NHLPA’s executive director, said the players’ association would be “examining everything” regarding anti-cut equipment.
“I think we need to continue to have a conversation about this as we move forward,” Walsh said. “It’s a change for the players, but it’s also about the defense, so I think we’ll have those conversations as we move forward here.
Bettman said the league would not mandate anything without the NHLPA’s approval and noted that it is “human nature” to resist change. He just hopes the league can act sooner rather than later to prevent a tragedy.
Some NHL franchises have already taken steps. On Monday, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters that the organization needed neck guards for its AHL and ECHL teams. They can’t do that at the NHL level, but the Pens will still recommend that the players look at additional defense on their own.
“We are currently trying to talk to our players about protective equipment in these vulnerable areas,” Sullivan said. wearing neck guards and wrist guards. Our team (ECHL) too. We can’t do that at the NHL level, but we can certainly promote it strongly. That’s our hope. Hopefully, as a league, we can work to develop more options for our guys on the defensive end in those areas.”