It’s always shocking when a professional athlete in their prime dies — and even more so when they die in the course of playing their chosen sport. On Saturday, October 28, Adam Johnson — a former player for the Pittsburgh Penguins whose career had taken him to the Nottingham Panthers of the Elite Ice Hockey League — died in what his team dubbed “a freak accident” in a game against the Sheffield Steelers.
“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 posted on social media. “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.”
As ESPN reports, Johnson was involved in a collision in the game’s second period, which led to the blade of a skate cutting his throat. Medical staff sought to treat the injury on the ice; he was eventually moved to Northern General Hospital.
Johnson first rose to prominence in the sport while in college, when he played for the University of Minnesota Duluth. He signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. Between 2018 and 2020, he played in 13 games for the Penguins; his career also took him to Canada, Sweden and Germany. The Panthers announced his signing earlier this year.
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The league has opted to postpone all games originally scheduled to take place on October 29. As the Nottingham Post reported, an online fundraiser to benefit Johnson’s family has been set up and several fans of his team have left flowers in front of Panthers’ arena.