Neck guards should be mandatory for all ages
It is astonishing to me that hockey governing bodies, such as USA Hockey and the Amateur Athletic Union, do not make it mandatory that neck protection be worn by ALL participants.
Quite frankly, if recent high-profile skate-blade to neck/face accidents such as the one involving Detroit Red Wing forward and Michigan State alum Drew Miller, are not enough to warrant an immediate implementation of such a rule, then WHAT will it take?
Permanent paralysis due to loss of blood? A death?
You see, to me, the dirty little secret as it relates to the overall safety of the ice game for parents and their respective youngsters across the world is thus: Each and every child is literally only a razor-edged skate blade away from unmitigated disaster.
Don’t think for a moment that the Miller injury situation cannot nor will not be replicated again soon, regardless of level. The sheer size (huge feet/long, dangerous blades), weight and speed of the current young player dictates that scenarios involving a player being toppled in such a way that he/she cannot control where/how their blades are headed is bound to occur. Odds say it is so.
But, please don’t attack the messenger.
Because my reporting in this column also offers up a quite elementary and simplistic solution.
MAKE NECK PROTECTION AS MANDATORY as helmet wear AT ALL LEVELS, Mini-Mite through Division I College hockey.
Please, can anyone give me ONE legitimate, credible reason to the contrary?
The exposed arteries in the neck area are incredibly vital blood couriers (jugular vein pulsing blood from brain to heart) AND MUST BE protected from the freshly sharpened, weapon-like blades.
Now, the referees may complain about additional responsibilities, but I would task them with insuring that players are wearing certified neck protection every millisecond on the ice. They are compensated well enough, in my opinion, to handle this requisite effort.
If they are not willing or able to perform it, then fire that individual or group immediately. Their personal liability involving enforcement should NOT be the issue because insurance rider(s) could easily be constructed to protect the officials/referees.
And, as far as I’m concerned, the vast majority of today’s officials do not manage the game from the perspective of insuring a child’s safety FIRST. They care more about enforcing the general rules and keeping the game moving crisply, most especially during tournament play.
This sort-of-mandatory neck protection rule, if implemented, will force on-ice game officials to begin concentrating more on safety versus the flow/length-of-game play. And that would be a massive welcome change INDEED.
In closing, I would make the following recommendation to all coaches and parents: Positively leverage the imminent Spring 2015 season by IMMEDIATELY requiring that your entire club/individual youngster wears a neck protector for all on-ice match competition and practices.
Who knows when and if the governing bodies will wake up and actually create compulsory neck-protection guidelines?
So why not be ahead of the curve? Become a caring and responsible adult leader and mentor, and you’ll have paved the way for your child to acquiesce and comply with your sane request to wear neck protection, beginning in the Fall of 2015 as well and beyond.
So consider placing the youngsters first. That should come naturally anyway to a perceived positive, action-oriented parent or coach.
Best of luck.
In order to assure uniformity and eliminate confusion regarding “approved/sanctioned” neck protection, I would suggest that USA Hockey combine with AAU Hockey to fund, research, develop and manufacture a brand of safe, reliable neck guard protectors.
Where would the money come from? Easy. Spend far less of the general membership’s money on the elite National Team Development Program (benefits a miniscule percentage yet paid for by all) and trim or eliminate personal expense spending for twice-a-year meetings in Colorado and Florida.
Lubanski’s company – Wilderness Xtreme Sports – invents bold new takes on traditional sporting competition. You can learn more at www.wxsports.net. You can also call Paul at 248-762-6998 for team/organizational motivational speaking or coaching enhancement presentations.