Ice hockey player Matt Petgrave receives hate mail following death of Adam Johnson

Ice hockey player Matt Petgrave receives hate mail after death of Adam Johnson
Tributes were left outside the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham the hours following the accident - Mike Sewell

The ice hockey player who accidentally killed an opponent with his boot blade has already faced hateful messages online over the freak incident.

Matt Petgrave was described as “absolutely distraught” as team-mates and other figures in the sport consoled him over the death of Adam Johnson.

The Nottingham Panthers player had his throat slashed by Petgrave’s raised left foot after the Sheffield Steelers’ opponent lost his footing during a prior collision. It later emerged Johnson’s partner, who was not immediately named, ran onto the ice in Sheffield to pray for him as the match was abandoned in the 35th minute.

On Sunday, a sea of tributes, including flowers, heartfelt messages and a shirt with the player’s No 47 were left at a makeshift shrine in Nottingham.

Among the mourners was fan Tina Taylor, who said: “It was a one in a million chance occurrence and will probably never happen again. It was a complete freak accident. She claimed Petgrave had been “receiving vile messages online” from “heartless trolls”.

She said: “He was absolutely distraught by the death of an opponent but it was a tragic accident and he was not to blame. The awful trolling must stop.”

Other ice hockey fans also reported seeing abuse online, with one posting: “After seeing the video from last night, I’m not sure how anyone can say Matt Petgrave intended to injure Adam Johnson. The abuse I’m seeing towards Matt is disgusting.”

Kevin Moore, Nottingham’s assistant coach, was accompanied by players and partners and thanked fans who flocked to the club’s base at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. Moore told the crowd they were “really grateful for all the love and support” shown.

He vowed: “As time goes on we are going to heal, we are going to do that together. We are going to be strong and will continue that way and we will do you guys proud. We appreciate you coming here today and we thank you for all your support.”

Panthers’ fan Hazel Woods, who had witnessed the tragedy, and came with her husband Mark to pay respects, said: “What happened was horrible and I can’t get the image out of my head. It is like a bad dream I can’t wake up from.... Our hearts go out to his family and friends and team-mates. I cannot imagine how they are feeling. We are feeling absolutely numb ourselves. It was a freak accident, totally tragic, and no one was to blame.”