Swedish ice hockey player Victor Bjorkung says the Nottingham Panthers players “stand behind” Matt Petgrave after his fatal collision with Adam Johnson. Bjorkung recalled the tragic incident in which he described his account as the “most traumatising thing I have seen in my entire life.”
The incident occurred during an Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) game between the Panthers and the Sheffield Steelers. During the game, both Johnson and Petgrave were involved in a collision which resulted in the Panthers’ forward suffering a fatal slash on his neck.
The former NHL player with the Pittsburgh Penguins was seen falling to the ground as players from both teams formed a protective ring around him. The game at Sheffield Arena was quickly called off as 8,000 fans were asked to leave.
Johnson was confirmed to have died the following morning, resulting in the day’s EIHL fixtures being postponed. Following the incident, Petgrave became the target of online abuse, something which Johnson’s teammate Victor Bjorkung has chosen to speak out against.
“What Matt has experienced is unimaginable,” Bjorkung said speaking to Swedish journalist Adam Johansson for Expressen, as reported by Nottinghamshire Live. “I don’t understand how some people can behave, it’s inhuman. I have texted him and expressed how I feel about everything and I support him.
“No one in our team thinks it’s his fault, quite the opposite. We stand behind him. We are a big family and he can contact us if he needs it – that has been our message to him. He has shut down his social channels, but he thanked me for my support and texts. That was nice.”
Bjorkung also revealed his account of the incident, having passed the puck to Johnson before the collision.
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“I have tried to suppress a lot,” he said. “You are so shocked at the moment, everything goes so damn fast. One moment you have your friend there, the next second he’s gone.”
“It is the most traumatising thing I have seen in my entire life,” he added. “Being on the ice when a friend I hold close dies like that. It’s terrible. It went so damn fast.
“I was a few meters away from him and I have a lot of memory gaps, but I have been told that I played the puck up to him on the left wing and then it takes a few seconds before… well, everyone knows what happens after that.”
The Swede also spoke highly of Johnson’s character, adding: “Damn nice and kind guy. He was popular. Easy to deal with. A sarcastic and funny guy, you often knew what he was thinking, he didn’t have to say much. A very good hockey player who was a star in our team. It’s just extreme sadness, this.”
Inquiries into Johnson’s death are ongoing, with the inquest being adjourned until January 26 for a review.
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