Opinion: Pyotr Kochetkov, Thank You for Wearing a Neck Guard

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Neck guards – the age-old hockey question of will they, won’t they. The hockey world has long argued about mandating neck guards at the NHL level. Neck guards have been deemed too uncomfortable or too hot to play entire games in. Many goaltenders at the NHL level don’t wear neck protection despite the gear being mandated in many international junior leagues.

For Carolina Hurricanes rising goaltender, Pyotr Kochetkov, the opposite is true. While he’s never discussed why he does so, on broadcasts and Canes social media posts, the guard is always there. It’s just become more prominent since the goalie went onto the IR for a concussion sustained during January 11’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. As the Canes delve closer into playoff season, with Kochetkov being goalie number two, the neck guard creates an extra level of protection for the team. Kochetkov’s stats only emphasize how well he’s done since returning. He’s been the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for February. His GAA is currently the highest in the NHL and has been since January. And yet, throughout it all, the neck guard has been a quiet and visible part of Kochetkov’s marketing through the team without any shame attached to it.

Hockey is a great game. Those in the world of hockey know that statement to be true. And yet, player safety is often ignored at the highest level – which is where injuries can fall through the cracks until avoidable tragedy occurs. In the case of neckguards, it’s been repeated tragedies. For Kochetkov, a rising star as a goaltender and a vital fan favorite for Carolina, the normalization of the guard is a major step in the right direction for player safety in the NHL. Adding onto the original statement, hockey is a better sport without gnarly injuries and more emphasis on player safety. While the game is great, it is just that – a game. There is no game great enough that it puts those fortunate enough to play it at serious – albeit rare – risk. Kochetkov’s decision to protect himself from these types of incidents matters, and not just from a PR standpoint. For an active rookie growing in popularity, Kochetkov keeps his career going into a possible long-term. He’s a promising young goalie, and his focus on his own safety is subtly brave. His decision shows players from all walks of life that taking the extra safety step isn’t uncomfortable or negatively affects play. There’s nothing showy about it – the guard is just a guard.

Hockey is made great by those brave enough to challenge the game. Kochetkov is doing so right now on the safety and the play front – how fortunate fans are to know and see it happen in real-time.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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