The ECHL has suspended Jacksonville Icemen forward Jacob Panetta for the rest of the 2021-22 season for making a racist gesture against South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban.
"Insensitive actions and gestures, regardless of intent, cannot be tolerated in our game," ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin said in a statement. "We all need to learn and grow from this incident, and remain steadfast to further educating and advancing our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our league."
Subban, who is Black, accused Panetta of making "monkey gestures" after their Jan. 22 game:
Jordan Subban @jordansubban
More like <a href="https://twitter.com/JPanetta12?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JPanetta12</a> 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. There fixed it 👍🏾 <a href="https://t.co/JtPqpN9wwE">https://t.co/JtPqpN9wwE</a>
Panetta has denied making any racial gestures, saying it was instead a "bodybuilder" pose toward Subban:
The 26-year-old was in his first full season with the Icemen, a minor league affiliate of the New York Rangers. He had five goals and 12 assists through 31 games this season.
The league said Panetta will have the opportunity to apply for a reduced suspension and early reinstatement after March 17 if he completes "a learning experience conducted in conjunction with the National Hockey League’s Player Inclusion Committee."
Subban is the brother of 13-year NHL veteran P.K. Subban, who indicated that racial taunts are nothing new in the sport.
"This is life for people who look like me who have gone through the game of hockey," the New Jersey Devils defenseman told reporters on Sunday. "And that's part of the history, whether we like it or not."
In the AHL, San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik was suspended 30 games for a racist gesture during a game earlier this month.