Matt Petgrave was arrested by British authorities in London on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the death of Adam Johnson, a former NHL player, in October. Petgrave was playing for the Sheffield Steelers against Johnson’s team, the Nottingham Panthers. Petgrave kicked Johnson with his skate in the neck. Petgrave’s blade sliced Johnson’s throat, and after being removed from the ice, he died.
The video shows Johnson skating toward the Steelers’ goal with the puck. Petgrave skates towards Johnson and collides with another Panthers player. Petgrave’s skate blade kicks up when he starts to fall, and it hits Johnson on the neck. Both players land on the ice. Petgrave got up immediately. Johnson rose slowly, and his shirt was covered in blood as he was helped off the ice. Later, he died at a local hospital.
You can see the incident below; be advised that the incident is extremely graphic.
Police in London have confirmed that they started investigating the incident as soon as it happened, and conducted a thorough investigation. Petgrave, who returned to the ice after the incident received a standing ovation as he entered the ice. This angered many fans and supporters of Johnson because of his apparent success in evading responsibility for the incident.
Petgrave’s hockey record in the EIHL is shaky. Eurohockey.com lists Petgrave as having 129 penalty minutes so far, making him one of the most penalized players this season. Former NHL and EIHL athletes have stated that Petgrave’s kick looked like it was done on purpose and to injure or harm Johnson.
Sources from the AP claim that this is not the first time a hockey player has been charged with a crime based on their conduct while playing, but it’s extremely rare.
In recent years, two NHL players have been charged in Canada with a crime for an action on the ice: Marty McSorley & Todd Bertuzzi.
McSorley, in 2000, was found guilty of assault using a deadly weapon after he used his stick to slash Donald Brashear’s head with both hands. He was sentenced 18 months of probation.
Bertuzzi plead guilty in 2004 to assault after grabbing Steve Moore behind him and giving him a sucker punch. Bertuzzi accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to one-year probation as well as 80 hours of community work.
After the incident, all leagues around the world have adopted or will implement equipment changes that include neck protection to protect players and prevent them from suffering the same injuries as Johnson. Johnson is a former NHLer who played 13 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2018-2019 season and the 2019-2020 season.