Former NHL Player Suspended for Kicking, Just Months After a Player Died From Skate Cut

( – A man who used to play for the Detroit Red Wings has been suspended from five hockey games by Swiss officials after he kicked an opposing player in the neck with his skate.

Martin Frk’s playing has been called “reckless” after he kicked opposing player Lawerence Pilut in the “neck area” during a match in Switzerland. Frk, originally from the Czech Republic, was drafted to play with the U.S. Detroit Red Wings in 2012. The match in Switzerland was held between the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers and Lausanne, and the incident took place on December 8th.

Frk and Pilut tussled over the puck, and Swiss officials say Frk deliberately kicked Pilut, although the player was not seriously injured. The Swiss National League initially suspended Frk for one game, then added a total of five games to the ban after determining Frk’s kick was intentional and in clear violation of the league’s rules.

The league also fined Frk the equivalent of almost $9,000.

Hockey fans were considerably less sympathetic, with many taking to social media to call for a permanent ban on Frk. On X (formerly Twitter), many wanted the player ousted from the game for all time. One fan wrote “suspend him forever,” and another said Frk’s actions were “reckless beyond belief,” noting that it was fortunate the incident didn’t kill Pilut.

Fans were likely already sensitized to violence-on-ice after the freak death of player Adam Johnson. Johnson, from Minnesota, was in England playing for the Nottingham Panthers on October 28th against the Sheffield Steelers. An opposing player’s skate sliced open Johnson’s neck, which caused his death.

South Yorkshire police arrested a man on suspicion of manslaughter, though, strangely, they declined to identify him. His identity is 31-year-old Matt Petgrave, who was the player whose skate cut Johnson’s neck. Petgrave was released on bail while the investigation continues.

After Johnson’s death, parents of minors who play hockey rushed to equip their kids with neck guards to protect them, and talk has swirled about whether hockey teams will require this kind of protection in the future.

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