Adam Johnson: Teammate of ice hockey player killed in 'freak accident' hits out at 'terrible' abuse of opposition player

A teammate of the professional ice hockey player who died in a "freak accident" has said online abuse directed at the opposition player who injured him is "completely uncalled for".

Westin Michaud, who plays as a forward for Nottingham Panthers, has posted on X as South Yorkshire Police said their inquiry into Adam Johnson's death will "take some time".

The 29-year-old American died after his throat was slashed during Nottingham's game against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night.

Since his death, the opposition player whose skate made contact with Johnson's neck has reportedly been targeted with abuse on social media.

Coming to his defence in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Michaud said: "I need to address something about the accident."

He added he and his teammates "wholeheartedly stand" with the opposition player involved.

"The hate" he is receiving online is "terrible and completely uncalled for," the post continued.

The 27-year-old American added: "I was at ice level on the bench closest to the accident, I saw both players moving fast.

"The unintentional clip of the Panther player's leg by the Sheffield player caused the somersault.

"It's clear to me his actions were unintentional and anyone suggesting otherwise is mistaken.

"Let's come together and not spread unwarranted hate to someone who needs our support."

The death is being investigated by South Yorkshire Police who have carried out inquiries at Sheffield Arena where the match took place.

Officers have also studied footage of the collision and spoken to experts, aided by Sheffield City Council's health and safety team.

The force has said its investigation will be lengthy.

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South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: "As with all unexpected and sudden deaths, it is standard practice for police to investigate the circumstances fully and feed back our findings to HM coroner.

"Our officers have now left the scene, however due to the complex nature of this tragic and unprecedented incident, it is likely the wider investigation will take some time.

"We continue to encourage the public to avoid speculation, including on social media, while we continue our inquiries and will provide updates when appropriate."

The Nottingham Panthers said it was a "freak accident" when it confirmed on Sunday that the Minnesota-born player had died.

About 8,000 fans watched in horror as attempts were made to save Johnson's life as he lay on the ice, shielded by fellow players.