Jacob Panetta has been released by the Jacksonville Icemen of the East Coast Hockey League after making an alleged racist gesture toward Jordan Subban of the South Carolina Stingrays, the Washington Post reports.
The Icemen announced Panetta’s release from the team in an official statement issued by CEO Andy Kaufmann that followed his suspension.
"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,” Kaufmann’s statement read. “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,” he added. “On behalf of the entire Icemen organization, we apologize to anyone who was offended and look forward to beginning the process of healing together as one. Thank you."
Rob Concannon, team president of the Stingrays, said in a statement that his organization was "appalled by the incident."
"Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as all other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination. This behavior is unacceptable and has to stop," he said.
The incident took place 23 seconds into an overtime game on Saturday, when a South Carolina player collided with a Jacksonville goalie. In the chaos, Subban challenged Panetta to a fight but he responded by allegedly taunting Subban by making monkey gestures.
"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.
The two eventually did fight and were subject to major penalties and misconduct violations which resulted in them being ejected from the game.
Panetta took to Twitter and apologized saying he was making a “tough guy, bodybuilder-like gesture” toward Subban.
“My actions towards Jordan were not because of race and were not intended as a racial gesture,” his post read. “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. I want to express to everyone, and 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 to him, his family, and everyone who was hurt by this.”
Jordan’s brother P.K. Subban, who plays for the New Jersey Devil of the NHL, tweeted a fan's video of the altercation where the crowd can be heard cursing in the background.
“They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other Black players are the monkeys,” P.K’s tweet read. “Hey @jacobpanetta you shouldn’t be so quick to delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things.”