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ECHL suspends Jacob Panetta for remainder of season due to racial gesture

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The ECHL announced on Thursday afternoon that it has suspended Jacksonville Icemen defenseman Jacob Panetta for the remainder of the regular season.

During a game between the Icemen and the South Carolina Stingrays, the 26-year-old Panetta made a racist gesture towards Black defenseman Jordan Subban while in the middle of a post-whistle scrum. The ECHL originally suspended the player indefinitely, pending an investigation that has now been concluded.

Panetta will have an opportunity to apply to the league for a reduction of the suspension after March 17, and if he completes a class with the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee.

“Insensitive actions and gestures, regardless of intent, cannot be tolerated in our game”, ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin said in the press release Thursday. “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.”

Jacob Panetta has been suspended for the remainder of the 2021-22 Season. (Photo via @JPanetta12/Twitter)
Jacob Panetta has been suspended for the remainder of the 2021-22 Season. (Photo via @JPanetta12/Twitter)

After the video made its rounds, and discussion on the issue of racism within hockey was made more public, Panetta released an apology video on his Twitter account. In the video, the Belleville, Ont., native wanted to make it clear that he did not intend to make a gesture that was racist, and that he hopes to speak with Jordan and the Subban family to personally apologize.

“My actions towards Jordan were not because of race, and were not intended as a racial gesture,” Panetta said. “I did not contemplate at the time that it would be perceived as a racial gesture. And I attempted to convey this to Jordan as we were heading to the dressing room during the game. I was confused after the incident until I saw and was told how people viewed it because of the players involved. I want to reiterate that no racist slurs, noises, or anything of the like, were said by me during the incident.

"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 to Jordan, that my actions were not racially motivated at all, and I sincerely apologize for the pain and suffering and anger my actions have caused him, his family, and everyone that was hurt by this.”

The video was released prior to the suspension announcement and completion of the investigation.

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