HOCKEY HORROR: Sean Avery says player wasn't thinking of 'murdering somebody today'

Cops in the U.K. are still investigating the incident

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The hockey horror that has shaken the shinny world was an accident, former NHL enforcer Sean Avery says.

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He was reacting to the tragic death of Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson, 29, whose throat was slashed by the skate blade of Matt Petgrave during a game in Sheffield, U.K. on Saturday.

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Avery told Fox News he’s certain that the “freak accident” wasn’t a matter of hockey hard man Petgrave getting up in the morning with the intention of “murdering someone today.”

The two players collided on the ice in front of 8,000 fans in the British league. Avery said the kick was intentional but murder was not on the 31-year-old Sheffield Steelers’ player’s mind.

MATT PETGROVE. GETTY IMAGES
MATT PETGROVE. GETTY IMAGES

The Fox News host suggested Toronto-born Petgrave had a rep as a “dirty” player and the tragedy looked like “murder.”

Avery responded: “That’s a pretty dangerous word to be throwing around. I’ve watched it, it’s terrible, it’s tough to watch. Did this kid make a move that was very unorthodox? Do I think he was trying to make contact of some sort? Absolutely.”

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But the often controversial Avery cautioned: “Do I think he woke up and said I’m going to murder somebody today? No.”

The former Pittsburgh Penguin and New York Ranger added that the sport needs to reconsider the titanium blades on the bottom of skates.

“I saw the hit … I saw the leg move. It shouldn’t have been where it was. It’s terrible. I can’t even watch the video back,” Avery said.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Adam Johnson in action during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017.
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Adam Johnson in action during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Photo by Paul Vernon /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cops in the U.K. are still investigating the incident and are trying to determine whether charges will be laid.

Former player Chris Therien wrote on Twitter: “Bush league needs to shut down for investigation immediately. I was literally appalled and sickened by what I saw. It looked intentional. It was a kung fu kick. My eyes are not lying tell me I’m wrong.”

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Petgrave is a journeyman enforcer who has toiled in eight different leagues during his career. He is the UK league’s most penalized player. Last year he played in the Czech Republic.

In 2018, the Brampton native was hammered with an indefinite suspension for his antics in the ECHL. British reports say Petgrave is “distraught” by the death of Johnson and is now surrounded by supportive friends and family.

Johnson, who is from Minnesota, previously played for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Adam Johnson and Ryan Wolfe in an image posted to her Instagram on June 22, 2021.
Adam Johnson and Ryan Wolfe in an image posted to her Instagram on June 22, 2021.

His heartbroken girlfriend, Ryan Wolfe, wrote in an Instagram Story: “My sweet sweet angel. I’ll miss you forever and love you always.”

The horrific incident has triggered a call to make neckguards compulsory at all levels of hockey.

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