December 6, 2023


“I keep in mind going to his funeral and the way arduous it was on all of us at such a younger age.”

Jim Montgomery and the Bruins are waiting for a matchup towards the Panthers on Monday evening. (Photograph by Michael Reaves/Getty Photos)

The hockey world was struck by tragedy over the weekend, as former NHLer Adam Johnson handed away after his neck was lower by a skate blade throughout a recreation in England.

Johnson, who hailed from Minnesota and performed 13 whole video games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019 and 2020, was simply 29 years previous.

The ahead was taking part in for the Nottingham Panthers in a Problem Cup recreation towards the Sheffield Steelers when a “freak accident” resulted in his deadly harm throughout the second interval of the Elite Ice Hockey League recreation at Sheffield’s Utilita Area.

The information hit near residence for Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, who misplaced a fellow hockey participant to the same harm whereas rising up in Montreal.

“It’s terrible, and it’s tragic,” Montgomery mentioned Monday at Warrior Ice Area. “The neck guards — a child I performed with once I was 14, Jamie Lechman, again in Montreal, I believe was the primary participant to move due to the identical factor. … Simply listening to the story and it’s very related. 

“Skate unintentionally hits somebody … And it was horrific. I keep in mind going to his funeral and the way arduous it was on all of us at such a younger age. After which Adam Johnson, I coached towards him in faculty. And so, once you’re shut — I wasn’t near Adam — however you simply really feel terrible.”

Johnson’s passing has additionally raised the discourse over neck guards in hockey and whether or not or not they need to be mandated, particularly within the professional recreation.

As uncommon as incidents just like the one on Saturday are, they’ve led to tragic outcomes out on the ice through the years.

Again in January 2022, Teddy Balkind, a sophomore on the junior varsity workforce at St. Luke’s Faculty in New Canaan, Connecticut, died throughout a recreation towards Brunswick Faculty in Greenwich resulting from the same harm.

Different life-threatening neck accidents involving skate blades within the NHL ranks embrace Florida ahead Richard Zednik in 2008 and Buffalo goalie Clint Malarchuk in 1989.

A number of gamers on the Windfall Bruins wore neck guards throughout Sunday’s residence recreation towards the Springfield Thunderbirds, though it was not mandated by the workforce and was a private choice of every skater.

Montgomery echoed the same sentiment to Windfall’s strategy on Sunday — noting that the choice to put on a neck guard will in the end be decided by the participant hopping over the boards.

“It’s arduous to get used to it and I believe it’s a private alternative if you wish to do it,” Montgomery mentioned of carrying a neck guard. “As a result of as quickly as I obtained out of Quebec and obtained to varsity hockey, I took it off. Simply because I felt it restrained me from respiration the way in which I needed to or no matter — it’s a nuisance, supplying you with slightly rug burn there. So I believe it’s a private alternative.

“It’s clearly one thing that may assist you. However the factor is, the factor strikes up and down. Perhaps it’s not defending you proper the place you want to be protected in any case. And if you happen to’re gonna put it firmly there, nicely then it actually begins to limit your respiration as you’re taking part in. It’s tragic. It’s horrific and it’s occurred, I believe, three or 4 occasions now within the final 30 years, possibly 40 years. I believe it’s a private alternative.”