NHL Notebook: Former Penguins forward Adam Johnson dies after freak accident during EIHL game and Joe Thornton announces NHL retirement
Photo credit:AP Photo/Paul Vernon
28 days ago
The Elite Ice Hockey League’s Nottingham Panthers confirmed the passing of forward Adam Johnson after being cut by a skate blade during a game on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, the Panthers released the following statement sharing the confirmation of the tragic news on Twitter.
“The Nottingham Panthers are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night,” the statement read.
“The Panthers would like to send our thoughts and condolences to Adam’s family, his partner, and all his friends at this extremely difficult time.
“Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great teammate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him. The Club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him.”
According to local outlets, during the second period of the Panthers game against the Sheffield Steelers, the 29-year-old suffered the injury after colliding with another player. The game was suspended after 13:47 of play in the second period, with the Steelers leading 2-1, and did not resume as fans were asked to exit from the area.
The Grand Rapids, Minnesota native became a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization after going undrafted and playing two seasons with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He signed a two-year entry-level contract with Pittsburgh on July 2, 2017, and joined the team in 2018-19 for six games and 2019-20 for several.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins join the entire hockey world in mourning Adam Johnson, whose life tragically ended far too soon,” the Penguins said in a statement on Sunday.
“We offer our deepest condolences to Adam’s family and friends, as well as all of Adam’s past and present teammates and coaches. Adam will always be part of the Penguins family. It was our honor to watch him fulfill his dream of playing in the National Hockey League.”
Johnson scored one goal and four points over 13 games with the Penguins organization but was primarily a member of the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL. Throughout three seasons and 185 games with Wilkes Barre/Scranton, he scored 39 goals and 108 points.
Following his time with the Penguins, Johnson took his skills to the Swedish Hockey League, joining the Malmo Redhawks. He later returned to North America, appearing in the AHL with the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings) and Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers). Last season, the forward ventured to Germany, suiting up for the Augsburger Panther, before making his way to Nottingham for the 2023-24 campaign.
Joe Thornton announces NHL retirement
Future Hall of Famer and long-time member of the San Jose Sharks, Joe Thornton, announced his retirement from the National Hockey League on Saturday through a casual video released by the Sharks organization on social media.
“Judging how many people keep asking me, I guess I have to tell you, I’m officially retired from the NHL,” he confirmed.
“I have so much love for the game of hockey, and for a countless number of people that helped this kids dream become a reality and if you’re looking for me, you know where to find me, I’ll be at the rink.”
Thornton last graced NHL ice back in 2021-22 season with the Florida Panthers but only totalled five goals and 10 points throughout 34 games and was sidelined as a healthy scratch for all but one of the club’s 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
When the campaign ended, Thornton was unassertive about his future in the league.
“I haven’t put any thought into it at all right now,” Thornton said in May 2022 after the Panthers were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
“I think it’s still so quick. I wasn’t expecting that. It took me by surprise, so I’m sure I’ll talk with the family and see what our plan is next. I haven’t decided if I’m going to play or not, but we’ll talk and see how everybody’s feeling about it. We’ll see.”
Thornton was initially the first overall selection by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Draft. He debuted with the club the following season, totalling seven points throughout 55 games. He remained with the club for eight years, scoring 169 goals and 454 points throughout 532 games before being traded to the Sharks on November 30, 2005.
In San Jose, he became the face of the franchise, with fans better knowing him by his nickname ‘Jumbo Joe.’ He scored 251 goals and 1055 points throughout 15 years and 1104 games with the club. He received the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy following the 2005-06 season, where he registered 29 goals and 125 points while splitting his time between the Bruins and Sharks.
Before his time in the big leagues, Thornton was a vital member of the Ontario Hockey Leagues Soo Greyhounds, after drafting him as the second overall pick in the 1995 OHL draft. He recorded 198 points across 125 OHL games and was named Rookie of the Year by the OHL and CHL in 1995-96.
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