by Dan Adkisson
A police investigation is underway following the tragic death of hockey player Adam Johnson, who died after what’s being labled a ‘freak accident’ in England. Johnson, who was just 29 years old and previously had ties to the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, collided with a player during a game in Nottingham and subsequently died of his injuries.
The game between the Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers was suspended following the incident. Johnson’s neck was cut by the skate of player Matt Petgrave. Later, the case was referred to the South Yorkshire Police for investigation.
Of course, hockey is a massive sport in North America, but is still relatively small in the UK when it comes to spectators and those interested in the game. Meanwhile, fans in the United States and Canada often back their love of the game via use of the best NHL betting sites.
During his brief time in the NHL, Johnson played 13 games for the Penguins. However, he suited up for their top minor league affiliate in the AHL quite regularly from 2017-2020. Born in Grand Rapids, MN, Johnson made his NHL debut in March 2019 and then eventually moved to Sweden little more than a year later. There, he joined the Malmo Redhawks after the COVID pandemic delayed the starts to both the NHL and AHL 2020-21 seasons.
His first stint overseas lasted just 21 games before he eventually moved back stateside and joined the AHL’s Ontario Reign. He later went on to have a spell in Germany with the Augsburger Panther, then eventually joining the Nottingham Panthers in August 2023.
A statement from the South Yorkshire Police on the incident read, in part:
“We were called at 8.25pm on Saturday 28 October to reports that a player had been seriously injured during a Sheffield Steelers versus Nottingham Panthers game at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield.
“Officers attended the scene alongside other emergency services, and one man, aged in his 20s, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Sadly, he was later pronounced deceased at hospital.
“Our officers remain at the scene carrying out enquiries and our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident remain ongoing.
“As with all unexpected and sudden deaths, it is standard practice for police to investigate the circumstances fully and feedback our findings to HM Coroner,” added the SYP statement, referring to the specialist judges who investigate deaths which are seen to be unnatural, violent, or where the cause isn’t known.”
Tributes to Johnson flooded in, and his former NHL club in Pittsburgh marked his passing before their recent game vs. Anaheim.
Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, commented, “He was a great kid, he was a good player. Boy, he could really skate. It was a privilege to be his coach. There are no words I have to explain how I feel about the whole circumstance. It’s just an incredible tragedy.”
Much talk following the incident has centered around the need for players to wear neck guards or protectors during games, and the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) has stated that these will be mandatory after December 31st.
The EIHA went on to add:
“It is unacceptable for any player to lose their life while playing sport. Our responsibility is not only to avert the recurrence of such a heart-breaking accident, but also to pre-emptively address other foreseeable incidents in the future.”