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On 28th October 2023, an ice hockey player in England died after an incident in a game which resulted in

his throat being slashed by a skate

A further description (but no images) of the accident are available in this Washington Post article.

As several of the people involved described it, this was a "freak accident", however, apparently such an injury is not nearly as uncommon as you'd hope. As the article cites, Clint Malarchuk in 1989 and Richard Zednik in 2008 both suffered and survived similar injuries. And furthermore, Will Borgen apparently had a near miss at some point during high school.

How does such an accident like this occur in hockey? The article offered no explanation on this and I'm struggling to imagine a scenario for such an act to occur that doesn't come off as being deliberate. At first I'd thought maybe if someone fell forwards onto another players skate as they were lifting their foot up, but from an image search nothing on the rear of the skate suggested something that would cause this injury, but maybe bludgeon the neck which while bad wouldn't be nearly as bad. Another thought I'd had was that another player gets checked on an angle with such force as to be launched into the air and spinning which might result in their legs/feet spinning at such a height to threaten to cause the injury; could that be what happened here?

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    Thank you for your consideration of the subject matter; I've made some further tweaks which I think are probably unnecessary but I would rather be overly conservative here. Anyone answering the question, please exercise discretion in your wording and extreme discretion if even considering any images.
    – Philip Kendall
    Oct 30, 2023 at 20:03

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Having seen a video of the incident1 it appears to be the latter of your two examples, where the Sheffield Steelers player is checked, seemingly causing his leg to rise towards Adam Johnson's neck area.

However, leaning towards your point of that sort of action being deliberate, there are rumblings as to if that sort of body check collision would cause a players leg to go so high, with some even going so far as calling for the Steelers player to be given a manslaughter charge from the police investigation.

Though, there is obviously a lot of emotion around the incident therefore objectivity might be hard to come by in these comments.

Countering these claims, Johnson's teammate has come out in support of the Steelers player posting on Twitter / X:

[...] 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.


Away from this incident itself, I guess it is possible also for two colliding players who fall in close proximity to each other, that neck and skate come into contact.

While ice skates are not razor sharp, when moving at speed, they can cause injury:

Hockey skate blades are sharp enough to cut someone when swung at high speeds but also dull enough that you could softly run your fingers across without even breaking the skin.

https://bshockey.com/how-sharp-are-hockey-skate-blades/

It could be possible that the dynamics of a fall, say an upturned skate in the path of another falling player and then the sudden stop as they hit the ice, could cause injury.


  1. I won't post a link here for obvious reasons, but a video is available via a linked tweet on Marca Sports' article of the event on their site - though I'm not sure how long that will be available for.

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