Lawmaker proposes mandatory neck guards after hockey death

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A Connecticut state lawmaker says she plans to introduce legislation requiring all hockey players to wear a neck guard or a similar protective device during practice or games

HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut state lawmaker says she plans to introduce legislation requiring all hockey players to wear a neck guard or a similar protective device during practice or games following the death last week of a 10th-grade player whose neck was cut by a skate.

While the governing body for interscholastic sports among secondary schools, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, requires all hockey players to wear neck protection, the rules don’t apply to private schools or youth hockey programs, according to Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour, a certified sports athletic trainer.

“It’s incredibly heartbreaking what happened last week and sadly this tragic accident may have been preventable had the teams been required to wear neck guards,” she said in a statement released Friday.

Benjamin Edward “Teddy” Balkind, 16, a member of the hockey team at the private coeducational St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, died Jan. 6 after falling to the ice and being cut on the neck by the skate of another player during a game at the Brunswick School, a college preparatory school in Greenwich for boys. The other player was unable to stop and collided with Balkind, who later died of his injuries at the hospital, Greenwich Police Capt. Mark Zuccerella said.

Klarides-Ditria said she has spoken with various legislators and local hockey coaches who support the concept of mandatory neck protection. Details of the bill are still being discussed. The General Assembly is scheduled to convene Feb. 9.

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