Jacob Panetta, player accused of making racial gesture, returns to Icemen following suspension

Jacob Panetta file photo. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacob Panetta, who was suspended following claims that he used a racial gesture directed at a Black player during a game in Jacksonville, has accepted an offer from the Icemen and was expected to rejoin the team Friday evening.

Panetta was released after the brother of longtime NHL player P.K. Subban accused the minor league defenseman of making “monkey gestures” in his direction.

Panetta, 26, was released in January, a day after his actions. Panetta said his gestures were “not racially motivated.” He used social media to say he was not making “monkey gestures” in Jordan Subban’s direction and it was not racist in intent, but instead was a “tough guy” stance.

Panetta was able to apply for reinstatement and suspension reduction after Thursday. The team announced the extended offer Friday, following his “successful competition of a learning experience in conjunction with the NHL’s player inclusion committee and ECHL suspension.”

“I want to thank the NHL Player Inclusion Committee, the ECHL, the Icemen, and my family for working with and supporting me over the past several months,” Panetta said in a prepared statement. “This has been a positive learning experience for me, and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with my teammates, the game, and our community. I am looking forward to making a positive contribution to the Icemen and the Jacksonville community, on and off the ice.”

A prepared statement from Andrew Kaufmann, CEO and managing partner of the Icemen, reads:

“We appreciate the support of our partners in the ownership group, our fans, the ECHL, the NHL and the hockey community as we welcome Jacob back to the Icemen. After much time reflecting and meeting with various community leaders and hockey officials, we all have a better understanding and appreciation of how we can all work together to make our game more inclusive both on and off the ice.”