Editor’s Note: The following story contains depictions of a racist act, both in writing and in video, which may be distressing for some readers.
Jordan Subban, the former fourth-round NHL Draft pick, was subjected to a racist gesture during an East Coast Hockey League game on Saturday night between his team, the South Carolina Stingrays, and the Jacksonville Icemen.
Subban, who is Black, 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,” pointing out the club’s omission of what he said was a racist taunt from Icemen defenceman Jacob Panetta which incited the roughness.
“More like @JPanetta12 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.”
More like @JPanetta12 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. There fixed ithttps://t.co/JtPqpN9wwE
— Jordan Subban (@jordansubban) January 23, 2022
Limited video of the incident is currently available, though one clip, which spans one minute and 27 seconds, shows an initial scrum in the corner that Subban and Panetta were involved in. Subban can then be seen skating toward the middle of the ice while talking to an official, with Panetta trailing close behind.
The video does not contain on-ice audio of what may have been said between the two players but, as Subban described, does show Panetta gesturing in a way that resembled an impersonation of a monkey, an action which is widely recognized as dehumanizing and racist when directed toward a Black person.
A fight between the two teams ensued in the immediate aftermath of the gesture.
P.K. Subban, the NHL defenceman who is Jordan’s older brother, addressed the incident candidly on social media, chastising Panetta for his actions.
“They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys!” P.K. wrote on Instagram and Twitter. “Hey @jacobpanetta you shouldn’t be so quick delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things are changing.
“Now not just the hockey world knows your true colours… your hometown of Belleville knows, your family, and friends know you’re a fraud ..with everything that has gone on in the past couple years in the world I’ll say with all due respect to everyone who has an opinion, this isn’t a mistake. We all know what’s ok and what’s not. Even your own teammates wanted to see you get your clock cleaned. This happens a lot and it never gets exposed in the lower leagues. One thing that I love about this is Jordan’s teammates standing in there and showing support. Love that.”
They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys! Hey @jacobpanetta you shouldn’t be so quick delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things pic.twitter.com/8zOJ9q47pk
— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) January 23, 2022
The incident between Panetta and Subban comes on the heels of another racist gesture which took place in the American Hockey League last week.
The AHL ultimately suspended Krystof Hrabik, the forward for the San Jose Barracuda who made a racist gesture toward Tucson Roadrunners left-wing Boko Imama, for 30 games.
It was the second time an AHL player was suspended for a racist taunt directed at Imama. In January 2020, Brandon Manning of the Bakersfield Condors was suspended five games for subjecting Imama to a racist slur.
“Enough is enough,” Imama wrote on Twitter after the suspension was issued, calling out the systemic nature of the racism he and other Black players have experienced. “I’ve been dealing with situations like this my entire life. As a person of colour playing youth hockey, through Junior and now twice as a professional, this keeps happening to me over and over again. We have enough to worry about as pro hockey hockey players and it saddens me when anyone has to deal with these types of issues.”
At this time, the ECHL, Stingrays and Icemen have yet to issue an official statement on what took place between Panetta and Subban.