Adam Johnson against the Blue Jackets in September 2017. Sep 22, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington (4) skates against Pittsburgh Penguins center Adam Johnson (47) in the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Former NHL player Adam Johnson has passed away at 29. Johnson was playing in Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League for the Nottingham Panthers against the Sheffield Steelers Saturday, and he was involved in an on-ice collision early in the second period.

That collision saw reports that Johnson’s throat was cut. And play was stopped and then the game was cancelled (and the nearly 8,000 fans in attendance were asked to leave Sheffield’s Utilita Arena due to the “major medical emergency”) while he received on-ice medical treatment (with players screening that from the crowd before shields were brought out). He was then was rushed to hospital. But the EIHL announced Johnson’s passing Sunday after this “freak accident,” adding that all their games for the day would be cancelled:

Johnson was 29. He was born in Hibbing, Minnesota and played junior hockey in the USHL with the Indiana Ice and Sioux City Musketeers. He then played two seasons of NCAA hockey with the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, scoring a crucial overtime goal in 2017 to beat Boston University and seal their Frozen Four berth (they’d eventually fall to the University of Denver in the championship game). After that, Johnson attended a prospect camp with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and signed a developmental contract with them.

Johnson played for the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2017-2018 and 2018-19. He was called up for six NHL games that latter season. He also played seven games at the NHL level with the Penguins in 2019-20.

In 2020-21, with the NHL season delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson played overseas with the Malmö Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League, then returned to North America and signed with the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. He played in the AHL with the Reign and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2021 and 2022, then went to Germany with Augsburger Panther of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, and then signed with Nottingham ahead of this year.

Many of Johnson’s former teams, teammates, and the rest of the hockey world offered tributes to him Sunday:

Our thoughts go out to all of Johnson’s family and friends, and to everyone impacted by this.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.