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Man arrested in connection with death of hockey player whose neck was cut with skate blade during game

LONDON (AP) — Police in England arrested a man Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the death of American ice hockey player Adam Johnson, whose neck was cut by a skate during a game.

Johnson, 29, was playing for the Nottingham Panthers against the Sheffield Steelers on Oct. 28 when he was struck by an opponent’s skate blade in the Elite Ice Hockey League game at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.

South Yorkshire Police did not name the suspect or provide his 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 got to his feet. Johnson rose more slowly and as he is helped off the ice, his jersey is covered in blood. He later died at a local hospital.

“Our investigation launched immediately following this tragedy and 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,” Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall said.

Fans had a moment of silence for Johnson 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 2018-19 and 2019-20 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.

Messages sent to Johnson’s agent and a friend of the family seeking comment were not immediately returned.

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