Everyone who has played or even briefly watched hockey understands that the sport carries with it great risks. With massive men flying around the ice at a breakneck pace as they slam each other into the boards, a hockey rink is no place for the faint of heart. We were reminded of the dangers of professional ice hockey last week when a former NHL player died after a collision on the ice in a foreign league.
Adam Johnson, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2018-2020, was killed while playing in the UK for the Nottingham Panthers. In a game against the Sheffield Steelers, an opponent lifted his leg and hit Johnson in the throat with the sharp blade attached to the bottom of his skate.
Johnson was continuing his pro career in the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League when the incident occurred. Now, Johnson’s aunt has spoken out against the actions of the opposing player, Matt Petgrave, alleging that his actions were negligent and calling on the police in the United Kingdom to charge Petgrave and conduct a full investigation.
In a series of quotes obtained by the New York Post, Johnson’s aunt goes on to explain why she believes the play should constitute a criminal offense and why she fells that Petgrave was not making a hockey-play when the fatal blow was landed.
JUST IN: Police are investigating the death of hockey player Adam Johnson after he got slashed in the neck by opposing team member Matt Petgrave's skate.
Online social media users are split on whether the kick was intentional or an accident.
It is currently not completely clear… pic.twitter.com/7kJRFzPilr
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) October 30, 2023
She said, “It was very reckless. I just want them [authorities investigating] to get it right. We are looking for justice for Adam… We are absolutely calling for a complete investigation. You don’t take your leg and kick somebody and cut their throat. I’m sorry.”
Filled with grief, Johnson’s aunt continued, “My nephew was 6-feet tall, and whether you lost your balance or not, to have that leg come up that high and do a kicking motion like he did, that is just unacceptable. I think the actions were unnecessary. It was just unnecessary. Nobody touched him. I’ve watched that video hundreds of times.”
She wasn’t done, she said, “That’s not a hockey play, that’s not a check. I understand that every team has an enforcer, per se, on their team. I’m sure Mr. Petgrave probably didn’t even think about the consequences could be of that happening, but there comes a time when you have to realize, that’s not hockey. And I’m sure he’s going through a lot too, but he took our boy. There are a few of us in the family that think it was a totally unnecessary, very, very bad action to take.”
For their part, the South Yorkshire Police released a statement saying, “Our investigation into the death of a player following a Sheffield Steelers versus Nottingham Panthers game at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield on Saturday 28 October remains ongoing.”
That is part of a lengthier statement that goes in-depth on the current state of the investigation. More details are expected to be provided as they become available.
The featured image is a screenshot form the embedded Tweet from Collin Rugg.
"*" indicates required fields