Former Penguins player Adam Johnson has died at 29 following a “freak accident” during an Elite Ice Hockey League game in England on Saturday. Johnson’s team, the Nottingham Panthers, shared the tragic news early Sunday morning.
“Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great teammate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him,” the Panthers said in a statement. “The Club will dearly miss him and will never forget him.”
Before joining the Elite Ice Hockey League, Johnson played two seasons in the NHL with the Penguins. The Minnesota native also spent some time playing in the American Hockey League, Sweden and Germany.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins join the entire hockey world in mourning the loss of Adam Johnson, whose life tragically ended far too soon,” the Penguins said in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to Adam’s family and friends, as well as all of Adam’s past and present teammates and coaches. Adam will always be a part of the Penguins family. It was our honor to watch him fulfill his dream of playing in the National Hockey League.”
The incident happened during the second period of Saturday’s EIHL game, as play was stopped after Johnson took a skate blade to the neck. Players initially formed a ring around Johnson while waiting for protective screens to go up, but minutes after they were sent to the locker rooms as it became clear how serious the situation was. Fans were also asked to leave the arena because of a “major medical emergency.”
Johnson received emergency treatment on the ice and he was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. Following the incident, EIHL announced that all of Sunday’s games would be postponed.
“The thoughts and condolences of everyone connected with the EIHL are with Adam’s family, friends and team mates at this incredibly sad and difficult time,” the EIHL said in a statement. “We would also ask everyone to respect the privacy of Adam’s family at this time.”