The ECHL acted swiftly on Sunday, suspending Jacksonville Icemen defenceman Jacob Panetta indefinitely, pending a hearing, for an apparent racial gesture toward fellow Canadian hockey player Jordan Subban of the South Carolina Stingrays during Saturday night’s game.
Video of the incident 23 seconds into overtime in the Florida city shows Panetta, from Belleville, Ont., appearing to raise his arms toward his side while looking at Subban, also a defenceman and a native of Toronto.
According to the Florida-Times Union, a newspaper in Jacksonville, the game report indicates the officiating crew assessed two game misconduct penalties to Panetta for continuing an altercation and for “inciting,” under ECHL Rule 75.5, which applies to “obscene gestures on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game.”
After the game, Subban accused Panetta of making a monkey gesture. His older brother P.K. Subban, an NHL defenceman with the New Jersey Devils, took to Twitter to react to the incident at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
“We all know what’s ok and what’s not,” the elder Subban wrote. “Even your own teammates wanted to see you get your clock cleaned. This happens a lot and it never gets exposed in the lower leagues. One thing that I love about this is Jordan’s teammates standing in there and showing support. Love that.”
They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys! Hey <a href=”https://twitter.com/jacobpanetta?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jacobpanetta</a> you shouldn’t be so quick delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things <a href=”https://t.co/8zOJ9q47pk”>pic.twitter.com/8zOJ9q47pk</a>
are changing. now not just the hockey world knows your true colours… your hometown of Belleville knows, your family, and friends know you’re a fraud ..with everything that has gone on in the past couple years in the world I’ll say with all due respect to everyone who has an
Jordan Subban, 26, further shared some thoughts on social media.
“More like [Panetta] was too much of a coward to fight me and as soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Subban
wrote on his Twitter account.
Jacksonville currently has no Black players on its active roster after goalie Charles Williams was summoned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (AHL) earlier this month.
Saturday’s incident occurred one day after the AHL barred San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik for 30 games following a racial gesture toward another player earlier this month.
Earlier in the week, the Boston Bruins retired the No. 22 jersey of Willie O’Ree, the first Black player to appear in an NHL game, to the rafters at TD Garden. The 86-year-old Fredericton native is well known for trying to combat racism that still exists in the league.
The ECHL, formerly called the East Coast Hockey League, is a mid-level professional loop comprising 25 American teams and two in Canada — the St. John’s-based Newfoundland Growlers and Trois-Rivières Lions in Quebec.
Panetta, 26, is a regular with the South Division-leading Icemen after appearing in six games in his rookie season a year ago.
The longest suspension in Icemen history is 16 games, according to the Florida Times-Union, handed to Emerson Clark in January 2020 for physical abuse of an on-ice official.