Minnesota hockey star killed by skate remembered by community

Hibbing native and former University of Minnesota Duluth hockey player, Adam Johnson, is being remembered by the hockey community around the world after dying in a freak accident on the ice Saturday.

"He was dynamic, had some great skills, and made it to a high level but the part that’s most important to me is the person he was," said Johnson’s High School hockey coach Mark DeCenzo. "He was a joy to coach, a great teammate, and just a good person."

Twenty-nine-year-old Johnson was killed Saturday during a game in England while playing for the Nottingham Panthers. 

As a memorial grew outside Hibbing Memorial Arena Saturday, DeCenzo said the small Iron Range community was reeling from the news.

"There will be a day when you can reflect on the memories and the stories but right now it's just coming to grips with it," he said. "Right now it's remorse and grief. The next phase hopefully will be appreciation for having him in your life."

Johnson played for the Pittsburgh Penguins for a short while, scoring his one and only NHL goal during a game against the Minnesota Wild in 2019.

The Pittsburgh Penguins said in a statement, "The Pittsburgh Penguins join the entire hockey world in mourning the loss of Adam Johnson, whose life tragically ended far too soon. 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 a part of the Penguins family. It was our honor to watch him fulfill his dream of playing in the National Hockey League."

The Minnesota Wild released a statement that said in part, "The State of Hockey is grieving for Adam, his family, and his hockey community."

Professional hockey players and former teammates were flooding social media with tributes

"He was a great teammate and person," NHL player Brett Sutter posted on X. "That smile and dry sense of humor will be missed. Rest peacefully, my friend."

The Nottingham Panthers addressed the tragic accident in a lengthy statement posted to its website. Saying in part:

"Everyone at the club including players, staff, management, and ownership are heartbroken at the news of Adam's passing. Our thoughts are also with the fans and staff of both clubs, especially those who attended or were following the game, who will be devastated following today's news.

"The Panthers would like to thank everyone who rushed to support Adam last night in the most testing of circumstances. 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 University of Minnesota Duluth Hockey program has a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, where coach Scott Sandelin will speak of Johnson’s passing.