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Neck guard legislation proposed for youth hockey players in Connecticut following tragic death

The accidental death of a New Canaan youth hockey player is prompting action from a state representative, looking to expand the requirement for neck guards.

GREENWICH, Conn. — A state representative is proposing new legislation following the tragic death of a youth hockey player last week in Greenwich. 

The death happened last Thursday as the Brunswick School, a college preparatory school for boys in Greenwich, played St. Luke’s School, a private co-educational school from New Canaan.  

Police and school officials said St. Luke's player Teddy Balkind fell to the ice and the other player was unable to stop, resulting in a fatal collision. The prep school player was rushed to Greenwich Hospital, where he died.

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In response to the accidental death, State Representative Nicole Klarides-Ditria (R-105) announced on WDRC’s Talk of Connecticut on Friday that she plans to introduce legislation during the upcoming session to require all hockey players to wear a neck guard or similar protective device during practice or games.

“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,” said Klarides-Ditria, who is also a certified sports athletic trainer. “Fast-paced and physical sports like hockey can sometimes be dangerous which is why players wear shin pads, gloves and other protective equipment, a neck guard is one more small piece to keep players safe.”

RELATED: Tributes pouring in for Connecticut teen hockey player who died during game

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) requires all hockey players to wear neck guard protection, however, those rules do not apply to private schools or youth hockey programs, said Klarides-Ditria.

Klarides-Ditria said she has spoken with House Republican Leader Vin Candelora and Deputy Republican Leader Tom O’Dea, and several local hockey coaches who support the concept. 

“The safety of our children is a priority in the legislature and I’m hopeful this proposal - or a similar measure - will pass the legislature this session with broad bipartisan support,” Klarides-Ditria said. “Coaches and athletic trainers focus on trying to prevent and treat athletic injuries to keep players safe, but with this simple rule change the legislature has the potential to save lives.”

Hockey teams, former NHL players, local, college and hockey clubs posted pictures of their hockey sticks by the door with the hashtag #sticksoutforTeddy in remembrance of the young hockey player.

RELATED: Student-athlete dies after collision on ice during high school hockey game

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

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