When you think about dangerous sports, the first one that comes to mind is football. While American football is indeed dangerous, it isn’t the only game that can result in catastrophic injury. Soccer is extremely physical, as is basketball. Even baseball poses the ever-present risk of taking a baseball to the head. However, hockey presents its own specific set of hazards.
While football features overgrown men hitting each other at full speed, and baseball features batted balls and 100-mph fastballs, at least neither sport features sticks and razor-sharp blades. Although it is extremely rare for a blade-related injury to occur on the ice, it does happen, and it can be deadly.
Recently, a former National Hockey League player was fatally wounded during a Challenge Cup game in the United Kingdom. Adam Johnson, who was an undrafted player that the Pittsburgh Penguins signed from 2018 through 2020, passed away while playing for the Nottingham Panthers.
The Panthers were squaring off against the Sheffield Steelers in the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) Saturday when the “freak accident” occurred, according to sources. In the second period, Johnson appeared to suffer a wound to his neck from a skate.
The game was immediately halted, and fans were asked to evacuate the arena for a “major medical emergency.” The Panthers later announced that Johnson had indeed died from his injuries. The team released a statement: “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 South Yorkshire Police reported that they were called at 8:25 regarding an incident at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield. Upon arrival, they found Johnson seriously injured. He was transported to a local hospital, but doctors were unable to save him, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital from his injury.
The Panthers statement continued: “The club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him. 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. Everyone at the club, including players, staff, management, and ownership, are heartbroken at the news of Adam’s passing.”
The injury, while rare, is not unheard of. In 1989, Buffalo Sabres’ Clint Malarchuk sliced his jugular vein on the ice but survived, and in 2008, Florida Panthers player Richard Zednik survived a similar injury, escaping with only PTSD from the experience.
Police have launched an investigation in the wake of the fatality. Johnson’s NHL club, the Pittsburgh Penguins, released a statement: “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.”
Johnson had only been in the UK’s EIHL league for a few months, but his presence left a lasting impact on his friends and teammates. Adam Johnson fulfilled his lifelong dream of skating professionally and died doing what he loved. Condolences to his friends and family.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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