Arrest Made in Death of Former NHL Player Adam Johnson

Arrest Made in Death of Former NHL Player Adam Johnson

CORRECTIONS, Nov. 14, 2023: Former NHL player Adam Johnson’s hometown is Hibbing, Minnesota. In addition, Becs Horsfall, detective chief superintendent of the South Yorkshire Police, is female. An earlier version of this article was incorrect on those points.

Last month’s death of former NHL player Adam Johnson in a U.K. professional hockey league has resulted in the arrest of an opposing player on “suspicion of manslaughter,” according to the BBC.

Johnson, 29, succumbed to a cut neck when hit by a skate as his Nottingham Panthers faced the Sheffield Steelers on Oct. 28. the BBC reported.

Authorities did not release the name of the player charged in Johnson’s death, but Sports Illustrated reported that it was presumably Matt Petgrave.

After Petgrave’s skate struck Johnson, Johnson tried to skate to his team’s bench while holding his neck, but he collapsed to the blood-soaked ice. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

“We have been carrying out extensive inquiries to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unprecedented circumstances,” Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall of the South Yorkshire Police said, the BBC reported.

“We have been speaking to highly specialized experts in their field to assist in our inquiries and continue to work closely with the health and safety department at Sheffield City Council, which is supporting our ongoing investigation,” Horsfall continued.

“Adam’s death has sent shockwaves through many communities, from our local residents here in Sheffield to ice hockey fans across the world,” she said, per Sports Illustrated.  “We know these communities will expect us to handle this investigation with the same professionalism, fairness and sensitivity as any other and request that members of the public refrain from comment and speculation which could hinder this process.”

“Our thoughts remain with all affected by this devastating incident as enquiries continue.”


Earlier this month an inquest into Johnson’s death was conducted. As a result, coroner Tanyka Rawden said ice hockey should mandate neck guards, according to the BBC.

The organization to which the Panthers and Steelers belong — the Elite Ice Hockey League — “strongly encouraged” players and officials to use the guards but did not mandate them.

A lower-level league, the English Ice Hockey Association, will require neck guards beginning next year.

In a commentary on sports violence, Hogan & Hogan, a U.S. law firm, said criminal prosecution in sports is “extremely rare.” Players have “assumption of the risk,” meaning they subject themselves to actions which outside of the game would be criminal.

Johnson played in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also played in the American Hockey League’s Ontario Reign and Lehigh Valley Phantoms and had stints in Sweden and Germany before joining Nottingham in August, according to the BBC.

The Panthers described Johnson’s death as a “freak accident.” To honor Johnson, the Anaheim Ducks and the Pittsburgh Penguins held a moment of silence.

Last week, some 3,000 gathered in an arena in Johnson’s hometown, Hibbing, Minnesota, to honor him, The Athletic reported.

In Hibbing, hometown also of MLB’s Roger Maris and basketball Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, if one said “Adam,” everyone knew whom they meant.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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