The East Coast Hockey League indefinitely suspended Jacob Panetta after South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban claimed the Jacksonville Icemen defenseman used a racist gesture during a Saturday game.
The Icemen announced Sunday that they are releasing Panetta.
"To be clear, our corevalues 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," Icemen 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."
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."
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."
On Sunday, the ECHL announced the indefinite suspension of Panetta, 26, pending a hearing under the collective bargaining agreement.
New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, Jordan's older brother, also took to Twitter to address the situation in a span of multiple tweets.
"They don't call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys!" P.K. wrote. "Hey (Panetta) 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."
Saturday's alleged incident comes on the heels of a racist gesture that occurred in the American Hockey League last week. The AHL suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik for 30 games after he made a racist gesture toward Tucson Roadrunners forward Boko Imama.
--Field Level Media