SHEFFIELD, England (AP) — Police are investigating the death of American ice hockey player Adam Johnson after his neck was cut by a skate blade in an English game.
Johnson was playing for the Nottingham Panthers at the Sheffield Steelers when he suffered the skate cut in a Champions Cup game on Saturday. He died in hospital. He was a Minnesota native who appeared in 13 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019 and 2020.
“Our officers remain at the scene carrying out inquiries and our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident remain ongoing,” South Yorkshire Police said on Monday. “We would encourage the public to avoid speculation regarding the incident while we continue our inquiries.”
The English Ice Hockey Association, which governs the sport below the Elite League, reacted to the death by making all players in England wear neck guards from the start of 2024.
Neck guards will be mandatory from Jan. 1 for all on-ice activities. The EIHA gave on Monday its “strong recommendation” that all players start wearing a neck guard, effective immediately. The body added neck guards would not be mandatory immediately because of anticipated supply issues.
“It is unacceptable for any player to lose their life while playing sport,” the EIHA said. “Our responsibility is not only to avert the recurrence of such a heartbreaking accident, but also to pre-emptively address other foreseeable incidents in the future.”
Players in the U.K. are allowed to play without neck guards after they turn 18. Johnson was 29.
Within 12 months, the EIHA said it would conduct a “thorough” review of player safety equipment “including, but not limited to, the use of helmets, mouthguards/gumshields and facial protection.”
All clubs will have to demonstrate they “proactively manage player safety.”
The body said its actions aligned with Ice Hockey UK and Scottish Ice Hockey.
“We are firmly committed to our obligation to exhaust every possible means to ensure that a tragic incident of this nature never befalls our sport again,” the EIHA said.
“Undoubtedly, this moment in time casts a somber shadow upon our global sporting community, serving as a stark reminder of our collective responsibilities as custodians of the sport. As in all sports, the safety of our players must take precedence above all else.”