Ice hockey star who suffered similar injury to Adam Johnson wants neck guards rule after Sheffield tragedy

Ice hockey player who survived injury similar to that which led to Adam Johnson death calls for compulsory neck guards
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An ice hockey star who suffered a similar injury to that which led to the death of Adam Johnson in Sheffield has called for 'mandatory' neck guards.

Clint Malarchuk, aged 62, said the 'vivid memory' of his near-death experience 34 years ago was triggered after learning of the death of Adam Johnson a week last Saturday.

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Nottingham Panthers player Adam, 29, died after an opponent's skate hit him in the throat in front of 8,000 horrified fans at Utilita Arena Sheffield.

It had chilling echoes of Clint's injury while playing in goal for Buffalo Sabres in the NHL in 1989 when a stray hockey boot blade severed an artery in his throat live on tv.

Clint Malarchuk has called for mandatory neck guards in ice hockey. Picture: CUI / SWNSClint Malarchuk has called for mandatory neck guards in ice hockey. Picture: CUI / SWNS
Clint Malarchuk has called for mandatory neck guards in ice hockey. Picture: CUI / SWNS

He lost three pints of blood and says he was 'totally prepared for death' after the incident, but was saved when medics closed up his neck with 300 stitches.

Now he has joined calls from Adam's family to make neck protection compulsory and believes a similar incident was "bound" to happen.

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Clint said he viewed Adam's death as an "accident" but added it was to bring in more safety equipment for those playing the contact sport.

He said: "I was at home and turned my phone on Sunday morning with dozens of texts asking if I was ok. I did get a lot of anxiety. No flashbacks but a vivid memory.

"I see many near-close calls when watching games. This is bound to happen again.

"It happens more than we know, it just doesn't get the vein or artery. Neck guards should be mandatory."

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Clint, from Grande Prairie, Canada, was just 27 when his throat was dramatically cut during a game against St Louis Blues on March 22, 1989, in Buffalo, New York.

Fans pay their respects and lay floral tributes at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, after Nottingham Panthers ice hockey forward Adam Johnson died after suffering a serious cut to his neck from a skate during Saturday's Challenge Cup match against the Sheffield Steelers.  Picture: Anita Maric / SWNSFans pay their respects and lay floral tributes at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, after Nottingham Panthers ice hockey forward Adam Johnson died after suffering a serious cut to his neck from a skate during Saturday's Challenge Cup match against the Sheffield Steelers.  Picture: Anita Maric / SWNS
Fans pay their respects and lay floral tributes at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, after Nottingham Panthers ice hockey forward Adam Johnson died after suffering a serious cut to his neck from a skate during Saturday's Challenge Cup match against the Sheffield Steelers. Picture: Anita Maric / SWNS

Shocking footage from the fateful evening shows opposing players Steve Tuttle and Uwe Krupp tussling for the puck before they slam into Clint on his goal line.

Moments later Clint was watched by millions grabbing his throat as blood spurted out of it and onto the ice in front of him.

But despite being heavily wounded, he managed to make it off the ice with the assistance of his trainer, and former Vietnam war medic, Jim Pizzutelli.

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He was saved when Jim put his field skills to use by gripping Clint's vein and not letting go until doctors could reach him and give him surgery.

Asked how he feels about his incident, Clint added: "This was not a violent intent but an accident. There was nothing to forgive. It was an accident, same as Adams."

Clint's comments come after Adam's grief-stricken aunt Kari Johnson, 62, said her family would support the introduction of mandatory neck guards after his death.

She said: "Absolutely, my entire family would go along with that 100 per cent

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"These players got used to wearing other equipment. They will get used to wearing this."

Adam's heartbroken parents Davey and Sue were watching the game on a livestream in the US when the 'freak accident' happened.

He was taken to the Northern General Hospital where he later died of his injuries.

South Yorkshire Police says its investigation into Adam's death could take "some time".

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Clint, who now works as a mental health advocate and recently spoke to students at Concordia University Irvine, California, about his experiences, said he would be contacting Adam's family.

He added: "I am thinking of his family whenever I get asked about the incident. I will reach out when things calm down for them."