NHL Star Player Launches Cut-Proof Equipment Company

Published October 31, 2023 at 9:36

Until helmet usage was regulated in the 1980's, the NHL was full of stubborn players who refused to wear helmets.

As a result of Adam Johnson's death, TJ Oshie is considering his own safety as well as the safety of other players.

Hayley Wickenheiser, a Team Canada legend, assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs and emergency physician, bristled at the depiction of such incidents as «freak» occurrences.

«I don't think this is a freak thing, I think it happens quite a lot,» she said. «It's just the injuries are superficial, or the players are lucky. This isn't something that doesn't happen; it happens a lot in hockey. Sticks come up, skates come up, and the neck is very susceptible. So whatever we can do to make (neck protection) more mainstream and just part of the equipment, the better for the future of the game. It just makes sense to me.»

In response to reading about how a young hockey player's neck was cut during a youth hockey game, his company Warroad began manufacturing protective equipment.

TJ Oshie has a company that makes cut-resistant shirts to protect hockey players' necks. But even he never wears it.

After Adam Johnson's death, he ordered five of them.

This is what he told me on his drive to the rink for yesterday's Caps game:

«Because they're stubborn,» said one NHL equipment manager, who was granted anonymity so he could speak freely. «It's a monkey-see, monkey-do league. All it would take is one guy to wear it. Then two days to get used to it.»

In order to increase usage, they made safety-conscious shirts that were not itchy and irritating.

Despite not wearing them himself, Oshie ordered five of his company's protective pieces after Johnson's death.

«It's not a cool look having neck guards on,» Oshie said. «For whatever reason, it's just not something that's sleek and looks great.»

«You just put one on,» she said. «I wore one for 20 years with the national team, it didn't interfere with anything I did. It's just like anything else, when one player does it, everyone sees it and it becomes normal. I can't even remember hockey without visors now, and I grew up watching the world of hockey without visors. I can't even imagine not playing with a visor with how fast the game is.»

They place more value on looking cool than anything else, which explains why they do not wear the mandatory neck guards like they do in the QMJHL, joking that only Tomas Plekanec or Wayne Gretzky can wear turtlenecks.

It has taken so long because the wearing of protective equipment is an ongoing struggle, similar to helmets and visors.

«There are options out there, and it's not a bad idea at all,» Dickinson said. «It's about awareness. And events like (Saturday) night, events like Kane's, like Karlsson's — those really make guys think and get them worried. It's definitely something I'd consider now. I mean, who cares what it looks like? Looking lame and living is a lot better than the opposite.»

At this point, living healthy on ice seems to be more important than aesthetics. Many in the league will have to push forward with the battle, as more safety equipment on ice isn't necessarily a bad thing.
October 31   |   117 answers
NHL Star Player Launches Cut-Proof Equipment Company

Do you think neckguards are a necessary on-ice piece of equipment?

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