The hockey world continues to be rocked by the death of former NHL player Adam Johnson at 29 this weekend. Johnson was playing in Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League for the Nottingham Panthers, and passed away after sustaining a throat injury from a skate blade in an on-ice collision during a game against the Sheffield Steelers Saturday.
That incident was called a “freak accident” by the league in their official statement on Johnson’s passing Sunday. But some have questioned that. There is video of the incident going around Twitter (the sharing of it has been criticized, and we’re not going to post it or link to it), and that’s led to some notable reactions. That includes a strong one from former Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars defenseman Chris Therien, who said “It looked intentional” and “that bush league needs to shut down for investigation immediately”:
After seeing the incident involving Adam Johnson, that Bush league needs to shut down for investigation immediately. I was literally appalled and sickened by what I saw. It looked intentional. It was a Kung fu kick. My eyes are not lying tell me I'm wrong
— Chris Therien (@ctherien6) October 30, 2023
Therien’s perspective is far from universal, though. Marc Methot, who played for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, and Stars between 2006 and 2019, responded by calling it “incredibly risky” but adding “I refuse to believe the defender targeted that area on purpose”:
Horrible incident and I can’t imagine what the family is going thru.
I refuse to believe the defender targeted that area on purpose, but I do think it was an incredibly reckless attempt at disrupting Johnson’s path into the middle ice.
— Marc Methot (@MarcMethot3) October 30, 2023
And the general sentiment of the replies to Therien aligns more with Methot’s perspective than Therien’s initial one. But it’s still notable to see this. And the English Ice Hockey Association (which oversees the EIHL and other leagues) has already announced plans to make neck guards and protectors mandatory in the wake of Johnson’s death. There may be further changes ahead, especially if there does wind up being an investigation into this.