Former NHL forward and Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson has died following an “accident” during a match in Britain’s top hockey league, his club has confirmed.
A Challenge Cup game against Sheffield Steelers was abandoned in the 34th minute after an ice collision in which Johnson suffered a severe cut to his neck from a skate. Fans were later asked to leave the ground in Sheffield due to what the club’s X (formerly Twitter) account called a “major medical emergency”.
The Panthers said Sunday they were “truly devastated” to announce the 29-year-old American had died.
A statement said: “Nottingham Panthers are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following an accident during last night’s game in Sheffield.”
They added: “The club will miss him dearly and will never forget him.
“Adam, our number 47, is not only a great ice hockey player, but a great teammate and an incredible person with his entire career ahead of him.
“The Panthers would like to send our thoughts and condolences to all of Adam’s family, his partner and his friends at this very difficult time.
“Everyone at the club including players, staff, management and ownership are heartbroken at the news of Adam’s passing.”
South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: “We were called at 8.25pm yesterday (October 28) to reports of a player seriously injured during the Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers match at the Utilida Arena in Sheffield.
“Officers attended the scene along with other emergency services and a man in his 20s was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Sadly, he was later pronounced dead at hospital.
“Our officers are at the scene today (October 29) carrying out inquiries and our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is ongoing.”
The Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) said all games scheduled for Sunday, October 29, have been postponed in light of the “deeply saddening news”. The Panthers’ game against Glasgow Clan on October 31 has also been postponed.
Johnson joined the Panthers this summer to play in the 10-owner EIHL, including teams in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.
He previously played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL, scoring one goal and four points in 13 games during the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons.
Before joining Pittsburgh, Johnson played collegiately for two seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
‘The entire hockey world is in mourning’
Speaking Saturday evening, former Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen described Johnson as “an unreal kid, a great guy.”
“Salt of the earth kind of guy,” Cullen said. “So, a very humble and very simple person. He’s one of those guys who loves the game and being around the ring with the boys.
On Sunday morning, England Time, the Penguins released a statement in which they said they had joined “the entire hockey world in mourning”.
They added: “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.
The EIHL is “heartbroken”, writing: “The thoughts and condolences of everyone connected with EIHL are with Adam’s family, friends and team members at this incredibly sad time.”
Sheffield Steelers posted: “Everyone at Steelers sends their condolences to Adam Johnson’s partner, family and teammates,” while a statement from the Utilita Arena in Sheffield said: “We are all truly devastated.”
Tributes continued to pour in from America on Sunday.
The NHL said: “The National Hockey League family mourns the passing of former Pittsburgh Penguins Adam Johnson. Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and teammates.
Hibbing, where Johnson played high school hockey, wrote on Instagram: “Our thoughts and prayers are with former Bluejacket Adam Johnson. The Hibbing community sends our best wishes to his family and friends. Rest in peace Adam.
Athletic Corey Bronman contributed to this story.
(Photo: Joe Sargent / NHLI via Getty Images)