BUFFALO – On Nov. 14, a skate blade sliced the through the top of Sabres center Tage Thompson’s skate through the tongue and his cut-resistant sock.
“Cut pretty deep, cut a tendon in my foot,” Thompson said prior to Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens in KeyBank Center. “Figured if a blade could through all that stuff, the more layers the better.”
So Thompson, who returned to that game last month before suffering a hand injury, sported neck protection – a shirt with a Kevlar neck – for the first time Saturday. He started wearing cut-resistant wrist guards this season and has been using the socks for years.
“(Cuts have) been a lot more frequent recently, I don’t know why that is,” he said. “The game’s so fast, too. You never know what could happen. You get into a vulnerable position and guys move so fast out there, it’s better to be safe.”
After former NHL player Adam Johnson’s death from a skate blade cut to his neck during a game Oct. 28 in England, players at all levels have been adding guards.
On the Sabres, Thompson, defenseman Henri Jokiharju and winger Jeff Skinner all sport neck protection. Jokiharju started wearing one in early November. Skinner recently started wearing a “turtleneck” similar to Thompson’s.
Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin wore a neck guard for one period Nov. 1 before taking it off. He said he felt warm and uncomfortable, a common complaint from players. Other Sabres have tested some out in practice.
“I feel like why not, right?” said Thompson, who tested his guard out Saturday morning. “You never know. You never think it can happen to you until it does. So if it feels comfortable on me and it doesn’t really bother me or affect the way I play, why not wear it?”