NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — American hockey player Adam Johnson, who appeared in 13 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019 and 2020, has died after his neck was cut by a skate blade during a game in England on Saturday, his team said. He was 29.
Johnson was playing for the Nottingham Panthers in a Challenge Cup game against the Sheffield Steelers when he suffered the skate cut during the second period of the Elite Ice Hockey League game at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.
“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 said Sunday.
“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.”
A Minnesota native, Johnson spent 13 games over parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons playing for Pittsburgh in the NHL before spending the 2020-21 season in Sweden with the Malmo Redhawks. He had a goal and three assists for the Penguins.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins join the entire hockey world in mourning the life of Adam Johnson, whose life tragically ended far too soon,” the Penguins said Sunday in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to Adam’s family and friends, as well as all of Adam’s past and present teammates and coaches. Adam will always be part of the Penguins family.”
Johnson played college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, helping the Bulldogs reach two NCAA Tournaments. He scored an overtime game-winner in the 2017 tournament, sending Minnesota-Duluth to the Frozen Four by beating Boston University.
He also played for three American Hockey League clubs during his career and in Germany with the Augsburger Panther in 2022-23 before agreeing to join Nottingham for this season.
“Our thoughts are also with the fans and staff of both clubs, especially those who attended or were following the game, who will be devastated following today’s news,” the team added.
“The Panthers would like to thank everyone who rushed to support Adam last night in the most testing of circumstances. Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great teammate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him. The club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him.”
The league announced that all three games scheduled for Sunday in Belfast, Fife and Guildford were postponed following Johnson’s death. Nottingham’s game scheduled for Tuesday also was postponed.
Ian Laperriere, who coached Johnson with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, said it was tough news.
“Great kid (and) teammate,” Laperriere said in a text message. “Only great things to say about him.”
The NHL has had skate cut scares throughout its history, most notably Buffalo goaltender Clint Malarchuk, who took a blade to the neck during a game against St. Louis on March 22, 1989. Malarchuk received rapid medical attention and played again 10 days later.
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