Players for the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats say they support a new rule making neck guards mandatory starting Friday.
The change to the league's protective equipment policy comes after hockey player Adam Johnson died after his neck was cut by an opponent's skate blade during a game in England on Saturday.
Tanner Howe, forward and team captain for the Pats, said parents of players are glad they will wear neck guards going forward.
"Parents and whatnot [were] asking if we're gonna wear them and whatnot. Obviously it's very sad and you never wanna see it happen to anyone. So I think they're really happy," Howe said.
The WHL is a major junior hockey league based in Western Canada and the northwestern U.S. and has teams in several provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C.
In a statement, the league said that players will be required to wear neck guard equipment at all times while participating in on-ice activities, including games and practices.
Neck guards are already mandatory in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — the other two major junior leagues under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella.
Pats defenceman Parker Berge said there is always a concern when a part of the body is open to injury on the ice.
"I think it's definitely a good thing that we're kind of implementing it now. Obviously the OHL and the QMJHL are already doing that. So it's nice that we're kind of doing that and taking care of players' safety," Berge said.
Pats players said they are already used to wearing neck guards, having worn them until breaking into the WHL.
On Thursday, Regina Pats head coach Brad Herauf said Johnson's death was a shock to the hockey world.
"I've never seen an incident like that in all my days of playing hockey and in coaching. It's just one of those things like getting struck by lightning. It's very unfortunate that it happened," said Herauf.
His players will be wearing neck guards during their home game Friday.
"I think it's a great measure that we are doing and taking now to hopefully prevent something like that happening again."
Regina Pats Head Coach Brad Herauf said on Thursday he is glad the WHL has made neck guards mandatory for players. (Laura Sciarpelletti/CBC)
Johnson's death has prompted more discussions about the use of neck guards, something that is not mandated in the NHL.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association executive director Marty Walsh touched base Sunday in the immediate aftermath of Johnson's death to set up further talks between the league and union about blade safety.
The NHL cannot impose equipment changes without the agreement of the players association.