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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Former NHL player passes away after tragic incident

Photo from Adam Johnson’s memorial

Adam Johnson, a former NHL player, tragically lost his life after his neck was sliced by another player’s skate during an Elite Ice Hockey League game in Sheffield, England on Saturday, Oct. 28. 

The fatal collision took place midway through the second period of the game between the Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers. Opposing player Matt Petgrave attempted to make contact with Johnson as he was cutting across the ice, and his leg swung up to Johnson’s neck and sliced it.

Johnson’s teammates from the Nottingham Panthers have called the incident a freak accident.

“I saw the video, and it is extremely hard to watch,” said Colby Lau, a senior marketing major. “It is very tragic, and my condolences go out to his family and friends. Something like this should never happen at a professional level.”

Petgrave has a history for dirty plays and even led the league in penalty minutes. Many people are calling for Petgrave to face charges like manslaughter or even murder.

“Petgrave should definitely face some type of jail time for this,” said Payne Wilson, a junior business major. “While he may not have intended for his leg to reach that high, he was still going for a dirty play after getting beat on the angle.”

Following the collision, Johnson fell to the ice and struggled to get up. Once he was able to get on his feet and attempt to skate off, a trail of blood was visible across the ice.

Johnson was taken to a local hospital in Sheffield, where he tragically passed shortly after. He was only 29 years old.

Johnson was in his first season with the Panthers after spending parts of two seasons with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, followed by a stint in Sweden with the Malmo Redhawks.

He left college early to go pro and played in 13 games for the Penguins between 2018 and 2020.

Incidents similar to Johnson’s have happened in hockey before, but this is the first time a professional player has lost their life.

Last year, Teddy Balkind, a high school sophomore in Connecticut, died after his neck was cut in a collision. In 1989, Clint Malarchuk of the Buffalo Sabres had his neck cut during a game against the St. Louis Blues but survived.

Following the tragic accident, the English Ice Hockey Association stated that neck guards, which are usually recommended for ice hockey beginners, would now be mandatory for players after Dec. 31.

After this incident, the first NHL player wore a neck guard during a game. The Detroit Red Wings’ Jake Walman decided to wear the guard in his first game after Johnson’s passing.

“I think it’s crazy that hockey players aren’t required to wear neck guards already,” said Bradley Butcher, a senior finance major. “They literally play with knives on their feet, and there’s nothing protecting the most vulnerable part of the body, which is crazy to me.”

The South Yorkshire Police officially opened an investigation into Johnson’s death but encouraged the public to avoid any speculation regarding the incident.


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