- Johnson, 29, was killed when an opponent’s skate blade sliced his neck
- Cam Atkinson, Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny wore neck guards at practice
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Philadelphia Flyers teammates Cam Atkinson, Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny all wore neck guards at Friday’s practice following the tragic death of American Adam Johnson, who was killed when his throat was cut by an opponent’s skate blade last month in England.
‘Unfortunately it’s one of those things that something happens and it scares you like that,’ Konecny told NBC Sports’ Jordan Hall. ‘I have a wife and kids at home. To me, it’s like, why would I not put it on?
‘I’ve definitely had skates in different areas where you look, or your legs. I had one, I think last year or the year before, where I tripped and a guy went to take off, and his skate hit my visor right in front of my face. It just scared me. It’s one of those things where you think, ”It won’t happen to me.”’
Johnson, 29, was playing for the Nottingham Panthers against the Sheffield Steelers on October 28 when he was struck by opponent Matt Petgrave’s skate blade in the Elite Ice Hockey League game at Sheffield’s home arena. A post-mortem examination confirmed he died as a result of a fatal neck injury, police said.
A man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in the case. South Yorkshire Police did not name the suspect or provide his age. He was arrested on Tuesday, and released on bail on Wednesday pending further inquiries.
Flyers teammates Cam Atkinson (pictured), Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny all wore neck guards at Friday’s practice
Adam Johnson was killed when an opponent’s skate blade collided with his neck in a game
Matt Petgrave, pictured while playing for the Utica Comets, was involved in the tragic collision
Although they’re barely visible to fans, neck guards can protect against serious injury by attaching to a player’s undershirt and covering the vulnerable jugular vein.
‘For me, I’m doing what’s best for me and my family,’ Atkinson said. ‘If it helps other guys feel more comfortable wearing a neck guard, then that’s what it’s all about.’
Atkinson told NBC Sports that he has a facial scar from a nearly catastrophic collision in 2014.
The winger ultimately needed 75 stitches and nearly lost his right eye.
‘Actually the face guard, the shield, protected my eye,’ Atkinson said. ‘I closed my eye so fast, it went halfway through my eyelid, didn’t even touch my eyeball. … My eyelid was hanging over my eye, so I couldn’t see. At the time, I thought it hit my eye. As soon as I got back to the doctors, they lifted my eyelid and I could see.’
Travis Sanheim (left) and Travis Konecny (right) also wore neck guards at Friday’s practice
As NBC Sports reported, Atkinson and Konecny plan to wear a neck guard at Saturday’s game against the reigning-champion Vegas Golden Knights, but Sanheim’s model needed an adjustment, so he sent it back to the manufacturer.
Neck guards are already in demand for youth and collegiate hockey, but could soon become poplar among NHL players.
‘Hopefully, eventually, we can have every guy wearing it because I think that’s where it’s going to go to,’ Sanheim said. ‘I think that’s where it needs to go to. You saw the incident that happened, obviously a freak accident, it could happen to any one of us on any given night.
‘If we can take precautions and not have that happen, I think that would be a good thing.’