The East Coast Hockey League suspended Jacob Panetta on Sunday after the brother of longtime NHL defenseman PK Subban accused the Jacksonville defenseman of making “monkey gestures" in his direction, the AP reports. The ECHL said the indefinite suspension is pending a hearing under its collective bargaining agreement with its players. The Jacksonville Icemen then announced it had to decided to cut Panetta. The incident with Panetta and Jordan Subban, which occurred 23 seconds into overtime during the minor league hockey team's 1-0 home victory over the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday, comes in the wake of minor league forward Krystof Hrabik's 30-game suspension for making a racial gesture during a Jan. 12 AHL game.
Video posted by PK Subban on Twitter shows Panetta taking a monkey-like pose while Jordan Subban is being led away by an official. Jordan Subban, who is Black, then skates back toward Panetta and the two lock up at the beginning of a multiplayer skirmish. In a post on his Twitter account, Jordan Subban said Panetta “was too much of a coward” to fight him. “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 posted. Panetta posted a video on Twitter on Sunday, with a tweet that said “racism has no place in this world and no place in the game we love.”
Panetta said he told Subban that “You’re only tough when the refs get involved,’” and then “did a tough-guy bodybuilder-like gesture toward him” that Panetta said he’s made to other players in other games. “My actions toward Jordan were not because of race, and were not intended as a racial gesture. I did not contemplate at the time that it would be received as a racial gesture, and I attempted to convey this to Jordan when we were sent to the dressing room during the game,” he said. “I see now 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 ... I want to express to everyone, especially Jordan, that my actions were not racially motivated at all, and I sincerely apologize for the pain and suffering and anger that my actions have caused him, his family and everyone who has been hurt by this,” Panetta added. (More hockey stories.)