Originally created 07/25/02

ECHL teams to install safety netting to protect fans



PRINCETON, N.J. -- The East Coast Hockey League has joined the NHL is mandating that its teams install safety netting to protect fans.

The ECHL said on Wednesday that netting must be placed above the glass that borders the corners and end zones of the arenas.

The height and design of the netting configuration may vary, due to structural differences from venue to venue, but must be sufficient to prevent pucks from entering the spectator areas.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last month that all 30 NHL arenas must have safety netting "as soon as practicable." He hoped all teams will have it before next season, although some rinks may take longer because the material must be custom-fit for each building.

The NHL has also required its rinks to have glass at least five feet high along the side boards. Many already have glass that high, Bettman said, but in some arenas, the side glass is as low as four feet.

The move was prompted by the death of 13-year-old fan Brittanie Cecil, who died two days after being struck by a puck that deflected into the stands during a Columbus Blue Jackets game on March 16.

Cecil died of internal bleeding from a damaged artery in her neck. She is believed to be the first fan ever killed by a puck at an NHL game.

Teams have resisted protective netting in the past for fear it would obstruct the view, but current netting is all but transparent.

ECHL teams will work with its venues, netting manufacturers and suppliers to determine the system best suited to its arenas. Installation must be completed as soon as possible.