Celebration of life held for former Hibbing, UMD hockey player who died after being cut by skate
(KSTP) – Community members were invited to remember the life of Hibbing native and hockey player Adam Johnson, who died just over a week ago after being cut by another player’s skate while playing in England.
People around the world have been paying tribute to him since his death, and services were held in Hibbing on Monday.
Johnson was laid to rest after the event, which was held at Hibbing Memorial Arena, the home of Johnson’s old team, the Blue Jackets.
A growing memorial of more than 2,000 people showed up to the memorial, with hockey sticks, skates and blue ribbons set up outside the arena.
Under a screen, Johnson’s old jerseys — including the one bearing the No. 7, which he wore for Hibbing, as well as 47, which he wore for his Nottingham team in England.
The former University of Minnesota-Duluth star was playing pro hockey abroad when another player’s skate cut his neck.
“Very genuine, he always had that sly little grin, great wit, very humble, he was caring,” University of Minnesota-Duluth Head Coach Scott Sandelin said.
“Adam had a loyal love and a heart of gold, which he gave to all of us,” Grant Clafton, a friend of Johnson’s, added. “He was always willing to sign a jersey, or skate in a youth camp, and loved being around the kids and then making them smile.”
Johnson’s fiance also wrote a letter that she read out loud at the service: “To me you were everything, my home, my best fiend, my sounding board, my rock my safe haven and the love of my life. I’m never going to stop thinking about you and missing you and loving you, until we can be together again, love you.”
There were more tributes for Johnson over the weekend as Nottingham Panthers hockey fans paused for a moment of silence at a memorial. Several thousand people also came to the Panthers’ arena to sign books of condolences for Johnson’s loved ones.
“Hockey in the UK is such a close-knit community, it really is,” Chris Ellis, of the Nottingham Panthers, said. “He was a great person,” Ellis added. “He was quickly making himself a popular person in the Nottingham community.”
Ellis says the community continues to mourn the sudden loss. Since then, the English Hockey League says neck guards will now be required in the wake of the deadly accident. There’s also been a push for more players to start using them in the United States, as they’re being made available to more college players.
“It’s a really tough time from everyone but the support that’s coming in from around the world for Adam, friends, family, and club has been enormous,” Ellis said.
The team thanked the community for its support and also shared a message online for the Minnesota hockey community, saying, “The whole Panthers organisation’s love and prayers today are in Hibbing, Minnesota as family and friends put Adam to rest. Forever our #47.”