Former National Hockey League player Adam Johnson died after taking a skate to the neck during a game in Britain Saturday, his team confirmed.
Johnson, 29, who was an undrafted NHL player with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2018 to 2020, was playing in a Challenge Cup game for the Nottingham Panthers against the Sheffield Steelers in the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) Saturday when the “freak accident” occurred, according to The Athletic.
The game came to a halt in the second period when Johnson appeared to take a slice to his neck from a skate. The injury caused officials to halt the game and ask fans to leave the arena for what was described as a “major medical emergency.”
The Panthers announced that they were “truly devastated” to inform fans that Johnson had died from his injuries.
“The Nottingham Panthers are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night,” the team wrote in a statement.
“The club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him,” the team wrote, adding, “Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great team-mate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him.”
“The Panthers would like to send our thoughts and condolences to Adam’s family, his partner, and all his friends at this extremely difficult time,” the statement continued.
“Everyone at the club, including players, staff, management, and ownership, are heartbroken at the news of Adam’s passing,” the team wrote.
The Nottingham Panthers are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night. pic.twitter.com/lhSOkDu03Q
— The Nottingham Panthers (@PanthersIHC) October 29, 2023
The South Yorkshire Police noted that the department was called at 8.25 p.m. about the incident and arrived at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield to find a man, aged in his 20s, who was seriously injured. The department added that Johnson “was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Sadly, he was later pronounced deceased at hospital.”
Police officials said that an investigation is underway.
The Pittsburgh Penguins also posted a memorial statement to their past player, writing, “Adam will always be part of the Penguins family. It was our honor to watch him fulfill his dream of playing in the National Hockey League.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 29, 2023
Johnson had only joined the UK’s EIHL a few months ago.
— UMD Men’s Hockey (@UMDMensHockey) October 29, 2023
Johnson’s injury is rare but not unheard of. In 1989, the Buffalo Sabres’ Clint Malarchuk suffered a neck injury that sliced open his jugular vein in his neck during a game against the St. Louis Blues. Thanks to quick action on the ice, he survived the life-threatening injury.
Then, in 2008, Florida Panthers forward Richard Zedník also survived a similar injury on the ice, but the incident reportedly left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.