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Are Neck Guards Mandatory In Hockey?

By Saroj Karki / 31 October 2023 02:27 AM

Goaltender of the Buffalo Sabres, Malarchuk survives a sliced vein by a skate in a goal-crease collision in a game of 1989.
Source : twitter

Neck Guards are not mandatory in every hockey league. Hockey neck guards are recommended to wear for safety purposes.

The athletic history has seen many incidents that encourage players to wear protectors. Still, professional macho players feel uncomfortable wearing one.

It is not like the organizations are concerned about the issue. USA Hockey continuously tries to address the danger and recommends a neck laceration protector for all players.

The USA hockey neck guard rule is yet to be made. From the Statement of the 2022 USA Hockey Winter Meeting, it can be seen that the organization is concerned with updating and implementing the rule of equipment.

A directive from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) clearly stated to wear the protector for any QMJHL practice, pre-games, or games. It is a must in the Canadian Hockey League.

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Are Neck Guards Mandatory In The NHL?

Most of the NHL Players do not wear Neck Guards as there is no rule to wear them. Some players might wear it for added protection.

In NHL, there is no rule to wear the Neck Collar, but since 2014, players with 25 or fewer games have been ordered to wear a visor properly fixed to their helmet. 

Goalies in NHL did not wear facemasks until 1960. Helmets were also mandated 11 years after Bill Masterson passed away from striking his head on the ice.

The first goalie to wear a mask is Jacques Plante.

Still, after neck injuries seen on the rink, players are not mandated to wear protectors. Some players say the guard is uncomfortable, while others say they are just for a false sense of safety.

Best Neck Guard For Hockey

The best Neck Guard for Hockey is Skate Armor Neck Guard. It is a protective equipment that offers laceration and impact protection.

The brand has introduced removable impact protection in the best youth hockey neck guard.

It assures to protect the neck from hard slashes and blocked shots. The protector comes in two variants, NLP15 and NLP15i, both in the Junior and adult versions.

Skate Armor protector with detachable impact protector, available for both Senior and junior hockey players.
Source : instagram

The product allows movement freedom and flexibility for the neck. The removable impact protection layer is soft, designed to disperse the force of the impact immediately.

This protector is differently shaped to offer protection of the Carotid artery and Jugular Vein providing laceration protection.

The skate armor protector contains mostly polyester and 4% spandex. The impact protector is made of an Air-Frothed Viscoelastic Dry Polymer.

Why Is Ice Hockey Neck Guard Important In NHL?

Ice Hockey Neck Guard in NHL is important because it protects the neck from severe injuries.

A neck guard for hockey saves players on the rink from sudden injuries and puck hits.

Richard Zednik faced a life-threatening neck injury in 2008. While playing, the blade of his teammate's skates sliced his common carotid artery. The importance of equipment is always felt after accidents and just for a certain period.

Safety equipment is always necessary in any sport. The set of equipment might be different though needed. Ice hockey has recorded incidents like the slicing of arteries of the neck.

Goaltender of the Stars', Oettinger wearing a full-length round neck protector during a game.
Source : instagram

Such incidents are inevitable in junior leagues, college hockey, or NHL. So a protector must avoid such accidents before letting them occur. 

Especially in NHL, players tend to be more dominant, violent, competitive, and aggressive, causing accidents.

The safety of a player should be more than anything in any game, and protection should be mandatory in Ice hockey. But are current neck protector hockey that effective?

Study shows that 27% of players were equipped with a protector at the time of injury.

Hockey Neck Guards Types

Types Of Hockey Neck Guards include full-length, half-length, and bib-style. A neck guard shirt is also on the list.

Lundqvist starts to wear a protector after getting hit by a puck on his throat in 2015
Source : twitter


These are the cushioned rings worn around the neck. This type of protector covers the entire cervix. Full-Length Neck Guard offers better impact protection.

They are a little uncomfortable as it is thicker and does not allow them to move their neck freely. These are also called traditional protectors made with lightweight foam.


Half-Length protectors only cover the front of the neck, exposing the back. It is similar to the Full-length protector. Mostly, skaters wear these collar-type protectors.


Bib-Style protectors are used by Goalies. They are also known as Goalie protectors. These are constructed similarly to neck protectors with extra protective materials around the upper chest and shoulder.

Neck Guard Shirt

They are long sleeve shirts with built-in protectors in its collar. The collar is thinner than other types of net guards.

But they are protective and comfortable to wear. Some protectors are integrated into the jersey or inner.

How To Wear A Hockey Neck Guard?

A hockey neck guard can be worn by wrapping it around the neck. It should cover the throat and the area above the collarbone.

If the protector is a bib, it should sit on the shoulder properly and cover the upper chest area. Any modifications in the equipment can limit its ability to protect the neck.

Wearing the protector properly is crucial for it to be effective. The player should choose the right size of the gear. It should fit without any gap between the protector and other equipment.

More importantly, players should always ensure that the protector hinders the motion of the neck. Players should adjust the equipment or try different types and sizes if it feels uncomfortable and limits neck motions.

Players should properly wear the protector following these tips:

  1. Choose the appropriate size and type of the equipment.
  2. The protector should be worn under the jersey if it is a bib-style or shirt-style protector.
  3. The gear should comfortably rest on the players' bodies.

Hockey Shirt With Neck Guard Youth

Hockey Shirt With Neck Guard Youth is a protector integrated into a shirt for players under 12. They are made up of kevlar or nylon.

Some of the best shirts available for youth are:

  • Bauer NG Premium Youth Shirt
  • CCM Tacks 9080 Youth Shirt
  • Warrior Alpha DX3 Youth Shirt
  • Shock Doctor Core Youth Shirt

This protector is equipped for youth hockey players. This type of gear comes in adult/senior, junior, and youth.

Youth hockey players from city of kharkiv wearing full set of equipment for an exhibition game against their American counterparts on March 23,2023
Source : instagram

Protective equipment is crucial for younger players to prevent serious injuries. But the gear will also provide confidence and encourage them to develop good habits and sportsmanship.

Goalie Neck Guard And Throat Protectors

Goalie Neck Guard is essential protective equipment for goaltenders. Throat protectors are used to protect the goaltender from unexpected puck hits.

Lankinen wearing a Lexon Throat protector, attatched to the Goalie's helmet.
Source : instagram

They are not to be confused with each other. Although they are designed to protect the neck area of a player, they resist different forms of possible damage.

Goalie's Neck Guard protects them against cuts, while throat protectors provide extra protection from impacts. Goalies can wear both at the same time.

They are built with high-density foam to be worn snugging around the neck, whereas throat protectors are made with Lexan to attach to Goalie helmets with elastic threads.

Some of the best Goalie's Neck and throat guards for seniors/adults are listed below:

  • Bauer Supreme S29 Senior Neck Guard
  • CCM Premier Pro Senor Neck Protector
  • Brian's G-Netik Pro 3 Senior Throat Guard
  • Vaughn Velocity V7 XF Pro Carbon Senior Neck Protector
  • Warrior Ritual G4 Senior Throat Protector

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