Police in England announce arrest in connection with death of Minnesota hockey player

Hibbing Memorial Building Arena is seen
The number seven is displayed as a tribute to the late Adam Johnson during a public memorial service held for the hockey player in his hometown arena on Nov. 7 at the Hibbing Memorial Building Arena in Hibbing, Minn.
Erica Dischino for MPR News

Police in England say they’ve made an arrest in connection with the death of Minnesota native Adam Johnson, who died after being injured in a professional hockey game last month.

Johnson, who was from Hibbing, was cut by a skate blade during a game on Oct. 28 in Sheffield, England.

South Yorkshire Police issued a statement Tuesday saying they arrested a man on suspicion of manslaughter. They did not identify the man — who remains in custody — or elaborate on the basis for possible charges.

Johnson’s team, the Nottingham Panthers, had called the incident a “freak accident” in its initial statement following his death.

“Our investigation launched immediately following this tragedy and we have been carrying out extensive inquiries ever since to piece together the events which led to the loss of Adam in these unprecedented circumstances,” Detective Chief Superintendent Becs Horsfall said in the news release.

“We have been speaking to highly specialized experts in their field to assist in our inquiries and continue to work closely with the health and safety department at Sheffield City Council, which is supporting our ongoing investigation,” he said.

A hockey player skates in an NHL game
Adam Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 25, 2019 in New York City.
Bruce Bennett | Getty Images 2019

Horsfall noted in the statement that Johnson’s death “has sent shockwaves through many communities, from our local residents here in Sheffield to ice hockey fans across the world. We know these communities will expect us to handle this investigation with the same professionalism, fairness and sensitivity as any other and request that members of the public refrain from comment and speculation which could hinder this process. Our thoughts remain with all affected by this devastating incident as inquiries continue.”

South Yorkshire Police said its officers have been in touch with Johnson’s family.

Before playing overseas, Johnson, 29, played high school hockey for Hibbing, Minn., and college hockey for the University of Minnesota Duluth. He also appeared in NHL games for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A funeral and public memorial service was held in Hibbing earlier this month.

Johnson’s death has sparked wide-ranging conversations about hockey safety, with some teams and leagues moving to require the use of neck guards.

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