Coroner calls for neck guards after ice hockey horror

Nottingham Panthers star Adam Johnson, 29, died after his neck was cut by an opponent’s skate blade in a game against Sheffield Steelers last month.

South Yorkshire coroner Tanyka Rawden said the inquest will examine whether his death could have been prevented with protection.

She wrote to the English Ice Hockey Association and Ice Hockey UK to ask them to look into making the wearing of a neck guard mandatory.

In her prevention of future deaths report, she wrote: “In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”

Ms Rawden noted the International Ice Hockey Federation suggests players do wear neck guards or protectors, but those over 18 are not required to do so.

The Elite Ice Hockey League said last week it will not make wearing guards mandatory, but will “encourage” it.

The two professional bodies have until December 29 to respond to the coroner’s concerns. Ms Rawden said the response must either detail action taken, or planned with a timetable, or explain why no action is proposed.

The coroner adjourned the inquest until January 26. South Yorkshire Police said the investigation will be lengthy.

Officers have already carried out inquiries at the arena, studied footage of the collision and spoken to experts, assisted by Sheffield City Council’s health and safety team.

On Sunday, Mr Johnson was laid to rest in his home town of Hibbing, Minnesota, US, with his fiancee Ryan Wolfe writing on social media: “We miss you so much.”

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