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Wickenheiser calls for neck protection at ‘every level’ after Johnson’s death

Hayley Wickenheiser is calling for mandated neck protection at “every level in hockey” after former NHL player Adam Johnson died from a cut by a skate blade during a game in England on Saturday.

Wickenheiser is a four-time Olympic women’s hockey gold medallist who completed medical school after her playing career and currently works as an assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

She says the risk is far too great not to wear neck protection, even if it doesn’t pass the “cool factor.”

Neck guards are not mandatory in the NHL. The Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League mandate players to wear neck guards.

Hockey Canada also requires players registered in minor or women’s hockey to wear neck protection.

Winnipeg Jets interim head coach Scott Arniel says he expects the NHL to look into the use of increased protection.

Arniel was a forward for the Buffalo Sabres when his teammate, goalie Clint Malarchuk, took a skate blade to the neck on March 22, 1989.

Winnipeg Jets interim head coach Scott Arniel says he expects the NHL to look into the use of increased neck protection after former NHL player Adam Johnson died from a cut by a skate blade during a game in England on Saturday. (THE CANADIAN )PRESS/Fred Greenslade

Malarchuk survived the life-threatening injury but suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Former Montreal Canadiens forward Richard Zednik survived a similar incident in 2008.

Jets centre Mark Scheifele expects there to be several conversations about increased neck protection in the coming days. He says the protective gear can be restrictive and sees wearing a neck guard as an individual decision.

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