The ECHL has indefinitely suspended Jacksonville Icemen defenseman Jacob Panetta, pending a hearing, after an alleged racial taunt directed at South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban, who is Black.

Saturday night’s game was in overtime when the teams got together in front of the goal appearing a fight may break out. According to Subban, he tried to entice Panetta to fight, and Panetta responded by allegedly taunting Subban.

“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.

Response from Capitals Organization

Subban is apart of the Washington Capitals organization and has been called up to the AHL to play for the Hershey Bears this season. The Stingrays are the ECHL affiliate in the Caps organization and the Bears are its AHL affiliate.

In a statement, the Bears expressed their support of Subban and condemned “acts of racism in all forms, including the gestures made towards Jordan.”

“There should be no tolerance for racism in our game or our society,” the Bears statement continued. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are incredibly important to the Hershey Bears, and we offer our support to Jordan and the entire Stingrays organization.

The Washington Capitals also released a statement on Twitter saying the organization also stands in support of Jordan.

“We must continue to eradicate this type of disgusting behavior from our game and society,” the Capitals continued.

Response from players

Jordan is the younger brother of New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and Buffalo Sabres goalie Malcolm. P.K. posted several social media messages over the weekend, and was asked to reflect on the incident after the Devils defeated the Hurricanes 7-4.

“Sheer disappointment,” P.K. said. “It’s distasteful. There is no room for it in our game. I’m embarrassed because our game is better than this.

“I’d rather people focus on how we can change it and make it better, So the next kid that looks like P.K. Subban or Jordan Subban doesn’t have to go through this,” P.K. said.

Capitals right winger Tom Wilson also chimed in on social media in support of Jordan.

Jacob Panetta released by Icemen

Panetta’s indefinite suspension is pending a hearing with Subban, however, the Icemen later announced that they are 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. 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,” team CEO Andy Kaufmann said in a statement.

“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.”

Stingrays team president Rob Concannon said in a statement that his organization was “appalled by the incident.”

Panetta did release a video on social media, apologizing to Subban and saying he will participate in the ECHL’s investigation into the incident.

In the video posted to Twitter, Panetta said his gesture did not have racist intent, and instead described it as an attempt to mock Subban for acting like a “tough guy.”

“My actions towards Jordan were not because of race, and were not intended as a racial gesture,” Panetta said in the video. “I did not contemplate at the time that it would be perceived as a racial gesture… 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 and upset to Jordan, his family, and countless others.”


The Stingrays next play on the road against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Wednesday, Jan. 26.