OHA Niagara District Junior C Hockey Club




Saturday, January 02nd, 2010

Hockey body may mandate neck guards after linesman slashed

The Ontario Hockey Association, which meets early this month, will consider mandating neck guards for officials at that meeting, said the organization’s president Brent Ladds.

“Safety is paramount. If you look at one thing to make the game safer for our officials, then that’s what we have to do,” Ladds said.

“I can tell you that kind of injury is pretty rare. In 35 years with this association, I have never seen something like this happen, and I’ve never heard of anything like this happening.”

Kevin Brown, 25, was still listed in critical condition Friday.

The linesman, from the Sebringville area, was injured Tuesday while trying to break up a fight during a Junior C game between the Woodstock Renegades and the New Hamburg Firebirds.

A player’s skate slashed Brown’s neck.

Junior players have to wear neck guards since a Florida Panthers player had his neck slashed open with a skate during a 2008 game. But officials don’t have the same requirement.

“These refs, they go out and officiate these games and they do it as a favour to the game because they love it. Trust me, the financial motivation is not why they do it,” Ladds said.

In light of the incident, the Woodstock Minor Hockey Association has requested parents check the condition and fitting of their child’s neck guard.

“If they are worn or do not fit properly, please replace them,” the association’s website warned.

But whether the neck guards will be approved for on-ice officials will have to be discussed by the Ontario Hockey Association, Ladds said.

“We’ve never really thought about it for officials because it hasn’t happened before.”

Brown is a first-year official with the Ontario Hockey Association, and went through the OHA’s tryout camp in London.

“He is a personable, eager young man,” said Rick Singleton, who heads the OHA’s referee executive committee.

“I officiated at 1,300 OHA games and I’ve never seen anything like that happen.”


(Source London Free Press)