Jacksonville Icemen forward Jacob Panetta took to social media on Sunday to apologize to South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban for his actions in Saturday’s ECHL game that he says were not racially motivated.
Panetta and Subban got into an altercation during overtime. As the linesman broke them up and Subban skated away, Panetta made a gesture that was interpreted as a monkey impersonation. This gesture is widely recognized as a dehumanizing and racist gesture toward a Black person.
Panetta posted a two-part video on Twitter to apologize and discuss the incident and said that there was no intention of making a racist gesture.
“Jordan Subban and I were talking in a heated manner when the linesman got between us,” Panetta said. “And when the linesman was between us, I said to him, ‘You’re only tough once the refs get involved.’ And I did a tough-guy, bodybuilder-like gesture towards him. I’ve made the same bodybuilder gesture to non-racialized players a number of times when there have been on-ice confrontations.”
“My actions towards Jordan were not because of race and were not intended as a racial gesture, I did not contemplate at the time that it’d be perceived by some as a racial gesture,” Panetta added. “I attempted to convey this to Jordan when we were sent to the dressing room during the game. I want to reiterate that no racial slurs, noises or anything of like were said by me during the incident.”
After footage of the incident came to light, multiple teams and players, including the Washington Capitals, who are the NHL affiliate of the Stingrays, Tom Wilson, P.K. Subban and more, voiced support for Subban. They also condemned the gesture and racism in the game.
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The ECHL also announced that the league has suspended Panetta indefinitely pending a hearing. Jacksonville released him from the team.
Panetta said that he intends to fully cooperate with the league as it investigates this matter. He also apologized again and also said that he will look to learn from the incident.
“I want to express to everyone and especially Jordan that my actions were not racially motivated at all,” Panetta said. “I sincerely apologize for any pain and suffering and anger that my actions have caused him, his family and everyone who was hurt by this. However unintentional my actions were, I acknowledge the impact of my gesture and will commit to better understand the impact going forward.”
“Those who know me understand that this gesture was not intended to be racial. It’s not who I am, it’s not how I’ve been raised. But at the same time I need to and I will learn from this. Racism and other forms of discrimination have no place in society, including hockey,” he added. “I believe that before, and I still believe that now. I intend to fully participate in the ECHL’s ongoing investigation in this matter. And I will continue to try and reach out and contact Jordan and the Subban family to express my regret. I want to thank the people who gave me the chance to play in Jacksonville and play professional hockey. And also my teammates for the opportunity to play for them. Thank you.”
In 26 games with the Stingrays, Subban has picked up four goals and 14 points, along with 49 PIM. Subban is also playing in the ECHL All-Star Classic this season. Panetta has five goals, 17 points and 35 PIM in 31 games.