A coroner has called for neck protection to be introduced after a player was killed by a skate cut to the throat.
Nottingham Panthers legend Adam Johnson sadly passed away on Saturday October 28th following a fatal collision with Sheffield Steelers team member Mat Petgrave.
The Utilita Arena Sheffield was packed with 8,000 horrified visitors who caught glimpses of the “freak accident” before players crowded around Adam and he was taken to hospital.
The beloved family man was declared dead shortly afterwards – and the coroner who examined his case now called for neck guards for ice hockey players.
Coroner Tanyka Rawden has written a report on preventing future deaths as fears grow that more tragedies will occur.
“In my opinion, there is a risk that deaths will occur in the future if no action is taken,” the coroner wrote in her report.
“In these circumstances, it is my legal duty to report to you.”
Despite thousands of heartbroken fans feeling the aftermath of Adam’s death, Britain’s top hockey league refused to make extra protection mandatory.
The Elite Ice Hockey League, EIHL, will now “strongly encourage” players to wear neck guards, but Coroner Rawden felt this was not enough.
Meanwhile, the English Hockey Association claimed the governing body was making the potentially life-saving equipment a non-negotiable.
Coroner Rawden will discuss in her report whether Adam’s death could have been prevented by a neck brace.
“However, at this point in my investigation, I am sufficiently concerned that deaths could occur in the future if neck guards or protectors are not worn,” she added.
“In my opinion, measures should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you have the power to take such measures.”
Their worrying report was sent to Ice Hockey UK and English Ice Hockey Association Limited.
Companies have 56 days to respond.
“OUR SWEET ADAM”
The coroner’s report follows heartbreaking tributes paid by Adam Johnson’s mother and father at the Nottingham Panthers star’s funeral.
The grieving family buried him in his hometown on Sunday.
They held a private ceremony in Hibbing, Minnesota, USA, before a “celebration of life” on Monday.
Adam’s grieving parents, Davey and Sue, wrote an obituary in honor of their son, saying: “He meant many things to many people, but those who were fortunate enough to be loved by Adam knew that he was considerate, patient and was really authentic.” .
“He loved his fiancée, his family and his friends more than anything. We will miss his loving and calm demeanor forever.”
“Adam had a quiet confidence and was never boastful.
“He never wanted to be the center of attention, preferring instead to listen to others and do what he could to make them feel important.”
Adam’s fiancé Ryan Wolfe added a tribute on social media, writing: “Our sweet Adam, we miss you so much.”
A heartbroken Ryan was also mentioned in Davey and Sue’s obituary.
“Adam particularly enjoyed the quiet coffee break with his fiancée Ryan, dreaming about their future and enjoying the morning together,” they continued.
“Adam loved to live a slower pace of life and found joy in the small, everyday things.
“Simple pleasures Adam enjoyed were manually grinding his coffee beans, watching the colors of each sunset, sitting lakeside by the campfire with a glass of his favorite red wine, and trying out new dinner recipes.”
“He loved taking pontoon rides on Swan Lake with his future in-laws, making memories at Pig’s Eye and celebrating family reunions.”
The distraught parents also shared the close bond and “unbreakable bond” Adam had with his brother.
“Ryan always supported his little brother’s ideas, no matter how far-fetched they were. “Adam knew that Ryan was always there when he needed something in life,” they added.
Adam’s love for family was evident as she described the hockey player’s investment in his nephew’s life.
In their touching tribute, they described their little boy as their son’s “biggest fan.”
Davey and Sue continued: “Adam’s heart was so full of love between the two of them, and he never managed to deepen the bond with each of them.”
“From endless laughs while wrestling with Nana to trips to Arizona to Facetiming for hours when he was away, they were two of the brightest lights in Adam’s life that truly could never be dimmed.”
“OUR NUMBER 47”
Panthers fans gathered at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Saturday to remember Adam.
Thousands laid flowers outside and a book of condolence was opened on the ice for fans to sign.
On Monday, Panthers general manager Omar Pacha praised the popular player.
He said: “I would often see Adam at the rink or at a game and every time I saw him I would ask ‘How is Adam?’.”
“The answer was always the same: ‘It’s fine, Omar. Great group of people, ‘really enjoying it here’ and big smiles.”
“And I’ll never forget two words he always used to end any conversation with anyone in the area: ‘Thank you.’
“Always humble, always polite, always grateful, that was our number 47.”
Meanwhile, one of Adam’s teammates has relived the “traumatizing” moment the hockey star died.
Nottingham Panthers teammate Victor Björkung was on the ice when his friend suffered the fatal cut to his neck.
He said: “I’ve tried to block out a lot of things – you’re so shocked at the moment, everything is happening so bloody fast.”
“One moment you have your friend there, the next moment he’s gone.”