LONDON (AP) — Police in England arrested a man Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter in the death of American ice hockey player Adam Johnson. During a game, an ice skate cut his neck.
Johnson, 29, was playing for the Nottingham Panthers against the Sheffield Steelers on October 28 when an opponent’s skate blade struck him in the Elite Ice Hockey League game at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena. South Yorkshire Police did not release the suspect’s name or age. He was in police custody.
Matt Petgrave, 31, who plays for Sheffield, was the other player involved in the grisly incident that reverberated around the hockey community and led to moments of silence in the NHL. Video of the incident shows Johnson skating with the puck toward the Steelers net. Petgrave skates toward Johnson and collides with another Panthers player.
Petgrave’s left skate kicks up as he begins to fall, and the blade hits Johnson in the neck. Both players land on the ice. Petgrave immediately gets to his feet. Johnson rises more slowly, jersey covered in blood as he is helped off the ice. He later died at a local hospital.
“Our investigation launched immediately following this tragedy,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall. “We have been carrying out extensive inquiries ever since to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unprecedented circumstances.”
Messages sent to Johnson’s agent and a friend of the family seeking comment were not immediately returned. Fans had a moment of silence for Johnso at the Steelers next game and gave Petgrave, who didn’t play in that game, a standing ovation.
Johnson was a Minnesota native who appeared in a total of 13 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 seasons. The English Ice Hockey Association, which governs the sport below the Elite League, reacted to Johnson’s death by requiring all players in England to wear neck guards from the start of 2024.