The East Coast Hockey League suspended forward Jacob Panetta for the rest of the 2021-22 season on Thursday for the gesture he made in a game last Saturday.
South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban, who is Black, said Panetta made monkey gestures toward him in overtime of the game. The Jacksonville Icemen released Panetta the following day, and the league suspended him temporarily.
Panetta denied the gesture was racial in nature.
"Insensitive actions and gestures, regardless of intent, cannot be tolerated in our game," ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin said in a news release. "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."
In all, the suspension amounts to 38 games. The league said Panetta, 26, can apply for a reduction of the suspension and reinstatement after March 17 "pending successful completion of a learning experience conducted in conjunction with the National Hockey League's Player Inclusion Committee."
After the incident, Subban quote-tweeted an Icemen Twitter post that described overtime between the two teams as beginning "with a rough fight resulting in multiple penalties on both sides."
Subban took issue with the club's omission of what he claimed was a racist taunt from Panetta, who was tagged in the post. Panetta's account has since been deleted.
"More like (Panetta) was too much of a coward to fight me and 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 wrote. "There fixed it."
Subban is the younger brother of New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban.
Earlier this week, Panetta issued a video statement that contended it was a "a tough guy, bodybuilder gesture" that he directed toward Jordan Subban and that he has made similar gestures in the past during "on-ice confrontations."
He apologized to Subban and his family.
--Field Level Media