SHREWSBURY, N.J. — The East Coast Hockey League suspended defenceman Jacob Panetta of the Jackson Icemen indefinitely Sunday following an incident involving Carolina Stingrays defenceman Jordan Subban.
The league announced the suspension is pending a hearing under the Collective Bargaining Agreement for Panetta's actions Saturday in Jacksonville's 1-0 overtime victory.
During the extra session, Subban, who is Black, attempted to engage Panetta, who allegedly responded with a racial taunt.
"More like @JPanetta12 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," Jordan Subban tweeted afterwards.
Later on Sunday, the Icemen announced they're releasing Panetta.
"To be clear, our core values as an ownership group include one love and zero tolerance for racism or any other forms of hate against any group whatsoever," team CEO Andy Kaufman said in a statement. "The platform that is the Jacksonville Icemen is one that is more than just about hockey to us as a group. It is about using this platform to spread not only our love for hockey but our love for the community and for each other,.
"Though the investigation and review is ongoing at the league level, the Jacksonville Icemen will be releasing the player involved effective immediately and will continue our mission of sharing our love of community and hockey. On behalf of the entire Icemen organization, we apologize to any one who was offended and look forward to beginning the process of healing together as one. Thank you."
Earlier on Sunday, the team said it was co-operating with the league's review of the incident.
On Friday, the AHL suspended forward Krystof Hrabik of the San Jose Barracuda for 30 games for making a racist gesture toward Boko Imama, who is also Black, of the Tucson Roadrunners in a Jan. 12 game.
Subban's older brother, P.K., a defenceman with the New Jersey Devils, shared video of Panetta's alleged taunt and called out the ECHL.
"They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys!" the elder Subban wrote on his Instagram account. "Hey @jacobpanetta you shouldn't be so quick to delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things 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 opinion, this isn't a mistake. We all know what's ok and what's not. 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."
South Carolina president Rob Concannon said the organization remains firmly behind its player.
"The South Carolina Stingrays are disgusted and appalled by last night's incident involving Jordan Subban," Concannon said in a statement. "Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as all other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination.
"This behavior is unacceptable and has to stop."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2022.