The tragic death of Adam Johnson, a 17-year-old hockey player from Winnipeg, has sparked a call for safety talks among Hockey Manitoba officials and coaches. Johnson died on Monday after collapsing during a game at the Bell MTS Iceplex.
According to his family, Johnson had a rare heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to become abnormally thick and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. He was diagnosed with the condition when he was 12 and had a defibrillator implanted in his chest.
On Sunday, Johnson was playing for the Winnipeg Thrashers in a Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League game against the Southwest Cougars. He scored a goal in the first period and celebrated with his teammates. But moments later, he collapsed on the bench and went into cardiac arrest.
His defibrillator shocked him twice, but he did not regain consciousness. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was put on life support. He died the next day, surrounded by his family and friends.
How did the hockey community react?
Johnson’s death has sent shockwaves through the hockey community, both locally and nationally. His teammates, coaches, opponents, and fans have expressed their grief and condolences on social media and in person.
A vigil was held outside the Bell MTS Iceplex on Monday night, where hundreds of people gathered to light candles, lay flowers, and share memories of Johnson. His jersey number 19 was displayed on the ice and on signs.
Many hockey organizations and personalities have also paid tribute to Johnson, including Hockey Manitoba, Hockey Canada, the Winnipeg Jets, the Manitoba Moose, and NHL players such as Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Jonathan Toews.
What are the safety protocols for hockey players?
Hockey Manitoba is the governing body for amateur hockey in the province. It oversees more than 400 teams and 12,000 players in various leagues and divisions.
According to its website, Hockey Manitoba has several safety protocols for its players, such as:
- Mandatory medical forms for all players and team staff
- Mandatory concussion awareness and education for all players, parents, coaches, and officials
- Mandatory use of certified helmets, mouthguards, neck guards, and other protective equipment
- Mandatory first aid kits and emergency action plans for all teams
- Access to defibrillators at all arenas
- Access to trained medical personnel at all games and tournaments
What are the next steps for Hockey Manitoba?
Hockey Manitoba’s executive director Peter Woods said that the organization is deeply saddened by Johnson’s death and will review its safety protocols to see if any improvements can be made.
“We’re always looking at ways to make the game safer for our participants,” Woods said. “We’ll certainly sit down with our medical committee and our board of directors and see if there’s anything else that we can do to prevent something like this from happening again.”
Woods also said that Hockey Manitoba will provide support and counselling to Johnson’s teammates, coaches, and family.
“We’re a hockey family, and we’re here to help each other,” Woods said. “We want to make sure that everyone who’s affected by this tragedy gets the help they need.”