Hockey Community’s Renewed Attention to Neck Guards

DULUTH, Minn. — A recent fatal accident on the ice involving a 16 year old Connecticut hockey player is bringing a renewed attention in the north land to the importance of neck guards in the sport of hockey.

On January 6th, Teddy Balkind was sliced on the neck from a skate blade during an on-ice collision, he passed away later at the hospital.

Now the debate has returned about whether or not neck guards should be required in hockey.

“Especially at a young age I think they really important it’s obviously rare but it can always happen like we just saw which is really sad,” Nate Ice, a UMD Student, and former hockey player said.

In response to the tragic event, Connecticut state representatives will introduce legislation requiring all hockey players to wear neck guards in both practices and games.

Currently Sweden and Canada are the only countries that require neck guards in amateur leagues.

“So when you get to the point of having to legislate something like this where, I think common sense should prevail, and it should just be done, you know, and it should be done by the governing bodies within the sport, which in our case we have Minnesota hockey and or USA hockey,” James Stauber, Assistant Store Manager, Pure Hockey Duluth said.

“I think it should be required at least through I’d say peewees, when kids are first learning how to play, learning how to skate, communicating with each other, I think that’d be important and then once they get a little older you should be able to have the option to wear it but for sure it’s really important to wear as a youth hockey player,” Ice agreed.

While these types of neck injuries from skate blades are rare, they can be devastating, and change the rules.

One of the most infamous incidents involved Buffalo Sabers goalie Clint Malarchuk in 1989, where a skate cut his jugular vein and carotid artery, nearly killing him, leaving him with PTSD even decades later.

The injury led to NHL goalies being required to have neck protectors.

Fast forward to today, the Northland hockey community is talking about Teddy’s story, with the conversation turning to what they can do to keep players safe, and not have similar incidents happen locally.

“The feedback is indicative in the sales that we’re seeing with the neck guards,” James Stauber said.

He added that inventory has been running low with people coming in and purchasing more neck guards, but he is happy with these sales as he knows it keeps hockey players safe.

“The message I think has permeated through the hockey community that this happened, that this incident happened, and it can be hopefully prevented, he added.

Neck guards are sold for many different rates but are typically affordable. If you’d like more information on them, stop by pure hockey or any sporting goods store.

Categories: Minnesota, News, News – Latest News, Public Safety, Sports