Nottingham Panthers' Bjorkung Advocates for Safer Gear After Teammate's Fatal Injury

Nottingham Panthers player Victor Bjorkung speaks out about the need for improved safety measures in ice hockey after teammate Adam Johnson's fatal neck injury. Bjorkung advocates for mandatory neck guards and safer clothing after experiencing a laceration injury himself.

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Nottingham Panthers' Bjorkung Advocates for Safer Gear After Teammate's Fatal Injury

Nottingham Panthers' Bjorkung Advocates for Safer Gear After Teammate's Fatal Injury

Victor Bjorkung, a player for the Nottingham Panthers ice hockey team, is speaking out about the need for improved safety measures in the sport following the tragic team, death of his teammate, Adam Johnson, during a match against the Sheffield Steelers on October 28, 2023. Johnson, 29, suffered a fatal neck injury when his neck was cut by a blade, leaving Bjorkung and the rest of the team traumatized.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the need for increased safety protocols in professional sports to prevent such tragedies. If implemented, mandatory neck guards and safer clothing could have far-reaching implications for player safety across various sports.

In an emotional interview with BBC Sport, Bjorkung recounted the incident, saying, "I do remember most of it. Everything happened so fast, and obviously I was on the ice when it happened. It still feels unreal. I do get a lot of flashbacks, and they're not very pleasant." Bjorkung, who had just played a pass to Johnson before the incident, left the team a few weeks later and returned to his native Sweden to cope with the trauma.

The 31-year-old player also revealed that he suffered his own laceration injury a few months after Johnson's death, which cut through his protective gear and skin "like butter." This experience further strengthened Bjorkung's views on the need for safer clothing in ice hockey. He advocates for mandatory neck guards and suggests that full Kevlar undergear could be a potential solution.

"I am 31 years old and I hadn't really thought of it as being that dangerous up until this season," Bjorkung admitted. The International Ice Hockey Federation and the English Ice Hockey Association have made neck guards mandatory following Johnson's death, but the Elite Ice Hockey League, in which the Nottingham Panthers compete, has decided against making them compulsory, instead strongly encouraging their use.

The incident at Sheffield's Utilita Arena remains under investigation by South Yorkshire Police, with a man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in November 2023. Bjorkung finds it "crazy" that the police are involved in the case, emphasizing that it was a freak accident.

As the ice hockey community continues to mourn the loss of Adam Johnson, Victor Bjorkung's advocacy for improved safety measures serves as a poignant reminder of the risks players face every time they step onto the ice. The tragic events of October 28, 2023, have left an indelible mark on the sport, and it remains to be seen whether the calls for mandatory neck guards and safer clothing will be heeded by leagues and governing bodies worldwide.

Key Takeaways

  • Nottingham Panthers player Victor Bjorkung advocates for improved safety measures after teammate Adam Johnson's fatal neck injury.
  • Johnson, 29, died after his neck was cut by a blade during a match against Sheffield Steelers on October 28, 2023.
  • Bjorkung suffered a laceration injury months later, strengthening his call for mandatory neck guards and safer clothing.
  • The Elite Ice Hockey League does not require neck guards, despite the International Ice Hockey Federation and English Ice Hockey Association making them mandatory.
  • The incident remains under investigation, with a man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, but Bjorkung believes it was a freak accident.