A former NHL player said he believes Matt Petgrave “absolutely” tried to make contact with Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson – but he didn’t wake up with the intention of “murdering anyone today.”
Sheffield Steelers player Petgrave, 31, fatally slit Johnson’s throat with his blade in what was described as a “freak accident” as they clashed during a game in front of 8,000 horrified fans in Sheffield, England.
Former Canadian hockey star Sean Avery has suggested Petgrave’s kick that killed Johnson was intentional – but he refused to call it a homicide when pressed on it by Fox host Jesse Watters.
After Watters said Petgrave was a “dirty” player and it looked like “murder”, Avery said: “That’s a pretty dangerous word. “I’ve seen it, it’s terrible, it’s hard to watch.
Sean Avery has claimed that Petgrave’s kick that killed Johnson was deliberate – but he refused to call it a murder when pressed on it by Fox host Jesse Watters
Sheffield Steelers player Petgrave, 31, fatally slit Johnson’s throat with his blade in what was described as a “freak accident” as they clashed during a game in front of 8,000 horrified fans in Sheffield, England
Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson and his fiancée Ryan Wolfe at a family wedding in June 2022
“Did this boy make a move that was very unorthodox?” Do I think he was trying to make some kind of contact? Absolutely.’
Avery added, “Do I think he woke up and said I’m going to murder someone today? NO.”
He went on to talk about how the sport should rethink the thin titanium blades that are currently on the bottom of players’ skates.
He added: “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 anymore.’
The ordeal remains under investigation by South Yorkshire Police in England.
Chris Therien, a former Canadian hockey defenseman, also wrote on
“I was literally horrified and disgusted by what I saw.” It looked intentional. It was a kung fu kick. “My eyes don’t lie, tell me I’m wrong.”
Petgrave has played in eight different leagues throughout his career and has been described as a “dirty player” by Fox presenters and people online.
Accordingly, he is currently the Elite Ice Hockey League’s most penalized player in the 2022-23 league EuroHockey.
Petgrave accumulated a total of 129 PIM and penalty minutes.
And between 2013 and 2017, he reportedly had 328 career penalty minutes VredsHockey.
Matt Petgrave moved to the Sheffield Steelers from Czech club HC Dunamo Pardubice last year
While playing in the Canadian Hockey League in 2010, Petgrave was suspended five games “for an infraction in the third period of last Saturday’s 9-4 win over Sarnia.”
And in 2018, he was suspended indefinitely for his behavior in the ECHL in New Jersey.
The league announced: “Brampton’s Matt Petgrave has been suspended indefinitely and fined an undisclosed amount as a result of his actions in ECHL Game No. 963, Brampton at Kalamazoo, on April 7.”
The American Hockey League also suspended Petgrave in 2018, stating in their press release at the time: “Laval Rocket defenseman Matt Petgrave has been suspended one (1) game for a foul during a game in Toronto on December 13, 28.
“Petgrave has been suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 21.1 after being assessed a match penalty. “He will miss Laval’s game tonight (March 30) in Binghamton.”
Toronto-born Petgrave moved to the Steelers from Czech club HC Dunamo Pardubice last summer and most recently also played for Slovakian team HIK Spisska Nova Ves.
The 6-foot-2 player studied at the University of New Brunswick, where he played ice hockey for four seasons before turning professional in 2017.
That year, he joined the Ontario-based East Coast Hockey League team Brampton Beast and also played with the Syracuse Crunch, Laval Rocket, Utica Comets, Florida Everblades and Kansas City Mavericks.
Steelers head coach Aaron Fox previously described Petgrave as an “impact player” who can be a “game changer” and play “all positions.”
Last season he was selected to the Elite Ice Hockey League All-Star team.
At tonight’s Penguins game in Pittsburgh, instead of silence, they asked the crowd to cheer for Adam Johnson one last time – which was described as “quite a moment.”
Johnson’s throat was cut by Petgrave’s skate blade when they collided during the game.
Saturday’s incident occurred in the 35th minute of the Elite Ice Hockey League game at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield. The game was later abandoned.
Footage showed Petgrave crammed one of Johnson’s teammates on Saturday in a collision that caused him to lose his balance before his leg was raised and struck Johnson’s neck.
Adam Johnson in action for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL in Columbus, Ohio, in 2017
Matt Petgrave (file image) collided with one of Johnson’s teammates, causing him to lose his balance before his leg was raised and struck Johnson’s neck
Adam Johnson and Ryan Wolfe, pictured in July 2022, got engaged over the summer
Video of the incident showed Johnson standing up and blood spilling onto the ice. A referee and a teammate helped him as he left the rink, but he collapsed on the ice.
Johnson’s friend paid tribute to her “sweet, sweet angel,” saying, “I will miss you forever and love you always.”
The 29-year-old briefly stood up, bleeding profusely on the ice, before collapsing again during the game in Sheffield. He received immediate medical attention, cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed on the ice and he was taken to the hospital, but could not be saved.
Now his girlfriend Ryan Wolfe has paid tribute on Instagram, posting a picture of him and saying: “My sweet, sweet angel. ‘I will miss you forever and love you always.’
Supporters have rallied around “distraught” Matt Petgrave, who accidentally killed Johnson with the blade of his boot.
After the incident, the players formed a shield to hide what happened from the public.
Accidents like this have happened before in ice hockey. In January 2022, Teddy Balkind, a 10th-grader at St. Luke’s private school in Connecticut, died after another player’s blade cut his throat.
The same thing happened to Clint Malarchuk in 1989 in an NHL game between his team Buffalo Bares and the St. Louis Blues.
Malarchuk survived, but required 300 stitches to close a six-inch wound. He lost 1.5 liters of blood.