Former Jacksonville Icemen forward Jacob Panetta has been suspended for the remainder of the ECHL season after his racial gesture towards South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban, who is Black.
Twenty-three seconds into overtime during Jacksonville’s 1-0 win, Panetta and Subban were involved in a post-whistle scrum along the boards. The two continued chirping after being separated and as they skated away Panetta made the gesture towards Subban, which caused the Stingray defenseman to go after Panetta near center ice.
On Sunday, the ECHL on suspended Panetta indefinitely pending a hearing and the Icemen announced they were releasing him “effective immediately.”
In a video posted on Twitter, Panetta said he was doing a “bodybuilder gesture,” one he’d done before during games.
“I see now that from Jordan’s reaction that he and others certainly viewed it as a racial gesture and that my actions have caused a great deal of anger and upset to Jordan, his family and countless others,” Panetta said.
Panetta’s suspension is set for 38 games, but he is eligible to apply for a reduction and reinstatement to the league after March 17, 2022 “pending successful completion of a learning experience conducted in conjunction with the National Hockey League’s Player Inclusion Committee.”
“Insensitive actions and gestures, regardless of intent, cannot be tolerated in our game,” said ECHL Commissioner, Ryan Crelin. “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.”
UPDATE: Panetta and the Icemen players have responded to the suspension:
— Jacob Panetta (@JPanetta12) January 27, 2022
— Derek Lodermeier (@DLodes23) January 28, 2022