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      IIHF to make neck protection mandatory for World Juniors, Men’s U-18

      The World Juniors begins on Boxing Day in Sweden.

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      International hockey’s governing body is taking a stance on player safety.

      According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the International Ice Hockey Federation has agreed to make neck protection mandatory for the World Junior Hockey Championship and Men’s Under-18 Championships.

      The move comes in the aftermath of an incident where former Pittsburgh Penguin Adam Johnson died after his neck was cut by a skate blade in an Elite Ice Hockey League game in late October.

      The IIHF has yet to make a final decision on whether or not to make neck protection mandatory for its senior men’s and women’s world championships.

      The World Juniors is set for its traditional Boxing Day start in Gothenburg, Sweden this year. The Men’s Under-18s, taking place in Espoo and Vantaa, Finland, is slated to begin on April 25.

      Neck protection has become a hot topic across the game in the last month. The Penguins began requiring players on their American Hockey League and ECHL teams to wear neck guards, urging its NHLers to wear some form of protection as well.

      While at the NHL Global Series in Sweden last month, commissioner Gary Bettman spoke on the matter.

      “Players are free to wear neck guards,” Bettman told the media. “I would strongly encourage it as a personal matter.”

      Other leagues have instituted league-wide mandates. The Western Hockey League, as well as the EIHL, quickly made decisions to ensure better safety for its players. Hockey Canada, the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has had a history of forcing players to wear neck guards over the years.

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