Ex-NHL player claims Matt Petgrave was 'trying' to make contact with ice hockey star Adam Johnson who died in collision | The SunOctober 31, 2023
AN EX-NHL player has claimed Matt Petgrave was "trying" to make contact with ice hockey star Adam Johnson when he was fatally struck by a skate.
Sean Avery, who played for four NHL clubs across more than a decade, admitted he's struggled to watch footage of the collision.
Nottingham Panthers forward Johnson, 29, suffered a gash to his throat when he collided with Sheffield Steelers' Petgrave on Saturday.
Petgrave, who is understood to be "absolutely devastated", appeared to lose balance as his skate was raised into the air. There's no suggestion of any wrongdoing.
Johnson received emergency medical treatment on the ice before being rushed to hospital, but later died of his injuries.
Appearing on Fox News, Avery said stopped short of agreeing when host Jesse Watters said Petgrave was a "dirty" player and the collision looked like "murder", MailOnline reports.
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He responded: "That's a pretty dangerous word to be throwing around. I've watched it, it's terrible, it's tough to watch.
"Did this kid make a move that was very unorthodox? Do I think he was trying to make contact of some sort? Absolutely."
The retired Canadian star added: "Do I think he woke up and said I'm going to murder somebody today? No."
Avery also suggested regulatory bodies should probe the use of titanium thin blades on the bottom of players' skates.
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He continued: "I saw the hit… I saw the leg move. It shouldn't have been where it was.
"It's terrible. I can't even watch the video back."
Johnson fell to the floor following the horror collision and was briefly helped towards the side of the rink by a teammate before collapsing.
Players formed a ring around Johnson to allow him privacy as he received emergency medical treatment, while his partner also ran onto the ice following the incident.
He was rushed to hospital from the Utilita Arena in Sheffield, but a Panthers club statement the next morning confirmed he had died of his injuries.
Devastated fans gathered outside the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham throughout Sunday and Monday to pay their respects.
A sea of tributes, including flowers, heartfelt messages, a shirt and cup with the player’s number 47, were left by supporters from both clubs.
Johnson's fiancee Ryan Wolfe is understood to have visited the makeshift memorial with his teammates on Monday.
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Ice hockey fans will hold vigils in both Nottingham and Sheffield on Saturday, gathering at 8pm ahead of a minute's silence.
The Elite Ice Hockey League has also confirmed the Panthers' next three games have been postponed as players are "still coming to terms with the events of Saturday night".
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