United States Hockey League (USHL)

Adam Johnson, Former NHL Player And USHL Star, Dies After On-Ice Accident

Adam Johnson, Former NHL Player And USHL Star, Dies After On-Ice Accident

The hockey world is mourning the loss of Adam Johnson, a former Pittsburgh Penguin and USHL standout, who died after an on-ice injury in a game in Europe.

Oct 29, 2023 by Chris Peters
Adam Johnson, Former NHL Player And USHL Star, Dies After On-Ice Accident

Adam Johnson, a 29-year-old forward for the Nottingham Panthers in the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League, died after an on-ice incident in which he was cut by a skate during a game Saturday night. The Panthers announced Johnson's tragic passing early Sunday morning in a statement.

Saturday night, Johnson was playing for Nottingham in a game against the Sheffield Steelers that was part of the Challenge Cup tournament, an annual club competition in the UK. 

According to reports, Johnson sustained a cut to his neck amid a collision with a Sheffield player. Johnson was immediately attended to by medical personnel and rushed to the hospital. The game was postponed and fans were asked to clear the building, many leaving in tears according to multiple news accounts.

The Hibbing, Minnesota native was part of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization for three seasons and appeared in 13 NHL games. He scored one goal in his brief time in the NHL, doing so in his home state against the Minnesota Wild.

Prior to embarking on his pro career, Johnson was a standout player at the University of Minnesota Duluth, helping the Bulldogs win the NCHC title in 2017 and reaching the Men’s Frozen Four. Johnson scored the overtime game-winner against Boston University that sent UMD to the 2017 national semifinals.  

Johnson was also a star performer in the USHL as a junior player. He had 119 points in 121 career games, most spent with the Sioux City Musketeers. During the 2014-15 season, Johnson finished second in USHL scoring to future NHLer Kyle Connor with 71 points for the Musketeers. He was named a first-team USHL All-Star. Sioux City also represented the United States at the Junior Club World Cup where the Musketeers claimed the bronze medal. Johnson led the entire tournament in scoring with nine points.

Before his junior days, Johnson was a four-year standout for the Hibbing/Chisholm high school hockey team. He helped lead the team to the storied Minnesota Boys' State Tournament in 2011 in Class A, pacing the team in scoring throughout the section playoffs and state tournament as a sophomore. Johnson was the team's top scorer in each of his last three seasons of high school hockey and was named a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award following the 2012-13 season.

Over the last two seasons, Johnson had been playing in Europe. Last year he was a member of the Augsburger Panther in the German DEL before moving to Nottingham this season. He had been among Nottingham's top scorers this season and frequently played on their first line.

As word of the incident spread, the hockey world held its collective breath in hopes that the worst fears would not be realized.

It is believed that Johnson is the first professional hockey player to die as a result of a skate cut during a game.

Tributes have poured in for Johnson from his former teams, teammates, friends and the hockey world at large.

All games in the EIHL scheduled for Sunday have been postponed. The Nottingham Panthers' game on Oct. 31 has also been postponed.

Johnson is survived by his parents, Davey and Susan Johnson, his older brother Ryan and his partner.