The Nottingham Panthers hockey team honored fallen teammate Adam Johnson in an emotional memorial game on Saturday night.
Johnson tragically passed away last month after an on-ice accident during a game left him with a fatal neck injury at age 29.
The Panthers faced off against the Manchester Storm in front of a sold-out crowd at Motorpoint Arena, all of whom came to celebrate Johnson’s life.
The team retired his number 47 jersey in a pre-game ceremony, vowing that “he will forever be our number 47.” Players from both teams gathered at center ice, tapping their sticks in solemn tribute as the crowd chanted Johnson’s name.
We are humbled to announce that we will be retiring Adam Johnson's #47 jersey. Forever our 47💛 pic.twitter.com/EWp39r6xMB
— The Nottingham Panthers (@PanthersIHC) November 18, 2023
The game was filled with touching moments to remember the beloved player. Nottingham players wore special black memorial jerseys bearing Johnson’s name and number. During warmups, they received a standing ovation and waved to the cheering fans. In the 47th minute, play stopped for a minute of applause led by the 10,000 fans in attendance.
Last night on the 47th minute💛👏 pic.twitter.com/7NyHftchE5
— The Nottingham Panthers (@PanthersIHC) November 19, 2023
A highlight was the tribute video played on the jumbotron during the pre-game ceremony. It featured clips and photos from Johnson’s career, showing his passion for the game and bond with his teammates. As the arena lights dimmed, Johnson’s picture was displayed on the screen with the words “Forever Our 47”.
The Adam Johnson tribute video that played before his memorial game tonight 🖤💛 pic.twitter.com/v3Huo86OPp
— Gino Hard (@GinoHard_) November 18, 2023
While the final score ended in a 4-4 tie, the real victory was honoring Johnson’s legacy. The Panthers withdrew from tournament play after the tragedy but felt it important to return to the ice as part of the healing process.
Fans have created a makeshift memorial outside the arena, leaving flowers, jerseys, and heartfelt notes.
The accident that claimed Johnson’s life has ignited calls for increased safety measures in the sport. The Elite League now strongly recommends neck guards, which players wore in the memorial game. The English Ice Hockey Association will mandate neck guards starting in 2024.
Johnson’s passing has been deeply felt both at home and abroad. He played several seasons in Europe and briefly in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins before joining the Panthers this year. The Minnesota native lived in Nottingham alongside his American girlfriend.
While the memorial game could not bring Johnson back, it did provide an opportunity for his team, community, and the sport itself to pay their respects.
Nottingham will never forget their fallen star, and his number 47 will hang forever in the rafters – a permanent reminder of his lasting legacy.