ECHL’s Icemen release Jacob Panetta after he made racist gesture at Jordan Subban


The ECHL indefinitely suspended defenseman Jacob Panetta on Sunday before the Jacksonville Icemen released him, after he allegedly made a racist gesture at South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban during a game Saturday night.

Subban said Panetta made “monkey gestures” at him during a skirmish in the minor league hockey game, which led to the discipline handed down on Sunday.

The league had announced Panetta’s suspension Sunday morning, pending a hearing under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Icemen, an affiliate of the Rangers, initially released a statement saying they would cooperate with the investigation before announcing Panetta’s release less than two hours later.

“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 Kaufmann 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.”

The incident reportedly began after a player on each team collided with each other in overtime. Subban, the brother of Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, said he then tried to fight Panetta, 25, who declined before making the racist taunt.

“[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 tweeted.

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 👍🏾 https://t.co/JtPqpN9wwE

— Jordan Subban (@jordansubban) January 23, 2022

The ECHL episode came a day after the AHL suspended San Jose Barracudas forward Krystof Hrabik for 30 games for making a racist gesture toward Boko Imama during a game earlier this month.

P.K. Subban tweeted about his brother’s incident on Saturday night, including video of Panetta’s alleged taunt, saying things like it happen more frequently than it is reported.

Warning: Graphic Language

They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys! Hey @jacobpanetta 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 pic.twitter.com/8zOJ9q47pk

— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) January 23, 2022

“They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys!” P.K. Subban wrote. “Hey @jacobpanetta 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 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. Shout out to @RobConcannon & @scstingrayshockey.”