Ex-NHL player Adam Johnson dies after reportedly suffering neck injury during game

Former NHL player Adam Johnson was playing in the Elite Ice Hockey League, considered Britain's best, this weekend when he reportedly suffered a skate injury to his neck. Johnson previously played 13 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (pictured at left in 2018). File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI

Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Former NHL player Adam Johnson is dead following a "freak accident" during a game in Britain's top hockey league, according to the Nottingham Panthers, the team for which Johnson, 29, was playing.

The Panthers were playing the Sheffield Steelers in The Challenge Cup game when Johnson suffered a cut to the neck by a skate during an on-ice collision.

Officials stopped the game in the second period, and the 8,000 fans in attendance were later asked to leave the stadium in Sheffield where The Challenge Cup was being played due to what the team called a "major medical emergency" in a social media post.

Johnson, an American, received emergency medical treatment from paramedics on the ice.

Fellow players formed a ring around him right after the accident. Screens were raised around Johnson, and the players returned to the locker rooms.

The Panthers announced Sunday that Johnson "tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night," adding that the team was "devastated."

"The club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him," the statement read.

"Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great team-mate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him.

"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.

"Everyone at the club including players, staff, management and ownership are heartbroken at the news of Adam's passing."

South Yorkshire police were called to Utilita Arena in Sheffield at about 8:25 Saturday night in response to a player having been seriously injured during the game.

"Officers attended the scene alongside other emergency services and one man, aged in his 20s, was taken to hospital with serious injuries," the statement from police said. "Sadly, he was later pronounced deceased at hospital.

"Our officers remain at the scene carrying out enquiries today and our investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident remain ongoing."

Johnson was playing in the Elite Ice Hockey League, considered Britain's best. The EIHL postponed Sunday's scheduled games in light of "deeply upsetting news," the league said.

"The thoughts of everyone connected with the EIHL are with Adam's family, friends and team-mates at this incredibly sad and difficult time," the league added.

The Panthers asked that fans respect the privacy of Johnson's family and friends in this difficult time and as they "seek to come to terms with our grief."

"Rest in peace Adam," the Panthers said.

Johnson previously played 13 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.

"Adam will always be a part of the Penguins family. It was our honor to watch him fulfill his dream of playing in the National Hockey League," the Penguins said in a statement.

"Our prayers and deepest condolences go to his family, friends and team-mates," the NHL added.