What girlfriend of former NHL player discovered after his tragic death

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In the tragic death of a former NHL player, there is the matter of a broken heart.

It belongs to Ryan Wolfe, a 24-year-old woman who had been dating Adam Johnson for more than three years.

On Oct. 28, she learned Johnson, 29, had suffered a fatal neck injury that day when he was cut by an opposing player’s skate blade during a game in England.

Then she learned something else about the man she met in their home state of Minnesota.

Johnson had bought Wolfe an engagement ring before the couple flew to England for the 2023-24 hockey season and planned to propose to her, according to two close friends of Adam Johnson’s family.

They said Wolfe found the ring in the apartment she shared with Johnson in England − where Johnson played for the Nottingham Panthers of Elite Ice Hockey League – after Johnson’s family revealed the secret.

‘His grandmother told me that he had shown her (Johnson’s grandmother) the ring before he left and he was going to propose at some point,’ said Scott Pionk, whose son played college hockey with Johnson.

Attempts to reach Wolfe through social media were unsuccessful.

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Johnson’s father, Davey, told USA TODAY Sports the family is granting no more interviews. That followed the arrest of a man Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with Johnson’s death. The man was released on bail Wednesday and the South Yorkshire police, which is conducting the investigation, did not name the suspect.

A second friend of the Johnson family who spoke on condition his name not be disclosed because of the sensitivity of the situation confirmed Pionk’s account of the engagement ring.

‘I’m sure she had an inkling,’ Pionk said of Wolfe.

What Ryan Wolfe said at Adam Johnson’s memorial

On the day of the memorial, in Johnson’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, Wolfe told those gathered that she had written letter to Johnson. ‘Similar to something I would have written him for our wedding day,’ she said.

Looking down at her phone, Wolfe began to read.

‘Hi Babe. I want you to know how much I love you and adore you. … You had the best sense of humor, the biggest heart, the quickest wit and the kindest soul …

‘The last year or so, you came up with so many different plans for us. From starting a farm or coffee shop or me becoming some big hot shot so you could stay home and be a stay-at-home Dad with a whole vanful of kids you wanted.

What was said about Adam Johnson’s girlfriend Ryan Wolfe

During the memorial, Grant Clafton, one of Johnson’s former coaches, described Johnson as ‘joyful grump.’ But later in his remarks, Clafton said, ‘the joyful grump became just joyful. And we all know Ryan was the reason.’

Clafton grew emotional when he said, ‘I was looking forward to the life that Ryan and Adam were creating and deserved. And my heart breaks for her.’

In an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Pionk said Wolfe’s impact on Johnson was unmistakable.

‘You could see his life had a lot more purpose,’ Pionk said. ‘No doubt.’

Johnson’s life, which included playing 13 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, went beyond hockey. And there at the memorial was the broken-hearted girlfriend, standing behind a lectern as she read the letter she wrote knowing more than she did before Johnson’s death.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY