Controversy has erupted over the death of American hockey player Adam Johnson, who was struck in the neck and killed by another player's ice skate in the second period of a Challenge Cup match against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday in Sheffield, England. Fans and players alike are divided over whether or not Canadian player Matt Petgrave deliberately used a sidekick maneuver, stabbing Johnson in the throat with his ice skate.
South Yorkshire Police are now investigating the gruesome incident, which left Matt Johnson's blood all over the Utilita Arena. Below is the game footage at normal speed:
Warning - Graphic— Derrick Evans (@Evans4WV) October 30, 2023
I’ve never played hockey but I’m confused as to why this guys leg kicked up in the air like this?
Was this a dirty play?
The skate to the throat hit his artery which ended up taking his life.
RIP Adam Johnson!
The following footage shows Matt Petgrave's kick in slow motion:
JUST IN: Police are investigating the death of hockey player Adam Johnson after he got slashed in the neck by opposing team member Matt Petgrave's skate.— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) October 30, 2023
Online social media users are split on whether the kick was intentional or an accident.
It is currently not completely clear… pic.twitter.com/7kJRFzPilr
Below is the now deceased Adam Johnson:
And Matt Petgrave...
The mainstream media is already resoundingly describing the incident as a "freak accident." In fact, many news outlets are refusing to use Matt Petgrave's name or show his face in their coverage. However, NHL rules (along with leagues around the world) do not allow for players to kick a hockey puck in the air, and they are strict about kicking other players. Kicking results in an immediate match penalty of the player along with ejection from the game pending a review of their player status. Hockey players consistently train to avoid major penalties, which is why these kinds of "accidents" are incredibly rare.
There are only 23 reported incidents of hockey players dying on the ice worldwide since 1905. Most of these deaths occurred before safety rules and equipment became standard. The NHL only has one reported on ice death in its history.