A man was arrested by the police in England on Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter following the death of American ice hockey player Adam Johnson. Johnson’s neck was cut by a skate during a game.
On October 28, during an Elite Ice Hockey League game between the Nottingham Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena, Johnson, 29, was accidentally struck by an opponent’s skate blade while playing for the former.
South Yorkshire Police
South Yorkshire Police did not disclose the suspect’s name and age. Currently, the suspect is in police custody.
Another player, Matt Petgrave, 31, from Sheffield, was also involved in the disturbing incident that resonated within the hockey community and prompted moments of silence in the NHL.
A video of the incident captures Johnson advancing with the puck towards the Steelers’ net. Meanwhile, Petgrave approaches Johnson and collides with another player from the Panthers. As Petgrave falls, his left skate kicks up, striking Johnson in the neck with the blade.
Both players fell onto the ice.
Petgrave swiftly stood up, while Johnson took longer to rise and needed assistance to leave the ice. His jersey was stained with blood, and he later passed away at a nearby hospital.
Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall mentioned that an investigation was initiated immediately following the tragic incident. Since then, thorough inquiries have been carried out to reconstruct the sequence of events. that resulted in Adam’s loss under these exceptional circumstances.”
It is an infrequent occurrence, though not unheard of, for a hockey player to face charges.
A case in point is Giacinto “Jim” Boni, who was charged with culpable homicide in Italy for slashing Miran Schrott in the chest during a game on January 14, 1992. Regrettably, Schrott succumbed to a cardiac event, leading to his demise. Boni later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi are two NHL players who have faced criminal charges in Canada for actions committed on the ice.
In 2000, McSorley was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon after delivering a two-handed slash to Donald Brashear’s head with his stick.
As a result, he received a sentence of 18 months probation.
In 2004, Bertuzzi was found guilty of assault for forcefully grabbing Steve Moore from behind and unexpectedly punching him. As part of a plea deal, Bertuzzi received a one-year probation sentence and was required to complete 80 hours of community service.
The Panthers, formerly known as Twitter, made a tragic announcement stating that Johnson passed away as a result of a freak accident.
Nottingham teammate Westin Michaud, who expressed condolences for Johnson, also defended Petgrave, stating that the contact with the other player was unintentional and caused him to become uprighted.
Matt is facing unjustified and terrible hatred, as Michaud expressed. Michaud believes Matt’s actions were unintentional, and it is a mistake to suggest otherwise. Rather than spreading unwarranted hate, Michaud urges everyone to unite and support Matt in this time of need.
During the Steelers’ first home game since Johnson’s passing, a moment of silence was observed to honor him. Although Petgrave did not participate in the game, fans showed their support by giving him a standing ovation when his team photo was displayed on the scoreboard.
Originally from Minnesota, Johnson played 13 NHL games for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
The English Ice Hockey Association, responsible for governing the sport below the Elite League, responded to Johnson’s tragic death by implementing a new regulation. Beginning in 2024, all players in England must wear neckguards for enhanced safety.
The EIHL spokesperson said the league cannot comment on the ongoing police investigation. The organization representative for the Nottingham Panthers expressed that they have no comments. Requests for comments sent to Johnson’s agent, a family friend, and Petgrave’s team have yet to be replied to.