'Our game is better than this': Devils defenseman P.K. Subban reacts to racist taunt aimed at his brother

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P.K. Subban 1-24 GettyImages-ftr (Getty Images)

Devils defenseman P.K. Subban delivered an emotional and heartfelt press conference on Sunday, speaking out in the wake of an on-ice racist taunt from earlier in the weekend involving his brother.

Subban shared his personal reaction to an incident involving his brother, Jordan Subban, who is a player in the East Coast Hockey League. During a game between the Jacksonville Iceman and the South Carolina Stingrays on Saturday night, Stingrays defenseman Subban tried to engage in a fight with Iceman defenseman Jacob Panetta and Subban claimed that the Iceman defenseman was making monkey gestures towards him. 

Subban shared a few posts on social media acknowledging the incident before he played in the Devils' 3-2 loss to the Kings on Sunday. Following the loss in New Jersey, Subban shared a few emotional words on the state of the game and reflected on how everyone can strive to be better. He also explained that he shared a conversation with his family, including his brothers Jordan, 26, and Malcolm, 28, who currently serves as a goalie for the Buffalo Sabres.

"I didn't sleep much, I maybe got to bed around 5 a.m. and had a conversation with my family. Sheer disappointment. It's distasteful. There's no room for it in our game. I'm embarrassed because our game is better than this. What I think about is all of the great people and the great things about our game that I love. The unfortunate thing isn't just the incident, the unfortunate thing is how many kids deal with this every day and it doesn't come to light."

Jordan Subban fired a few punches at Panetta during the game before the Iceman took a 1-0 victory with a power-play goal in overtime. Both players received major penalties and misconduct penalties that sent them to the locker room. Subban's teammate Nico Blanchman left the bench to punch Panetta and also received a game misconduct. 

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

Subban also shared his account of the incident on social media in response to a tweet from the Iceman about the multiple fights during overtime. 

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 it 👍🏾 https://t.co/JtPqpN9wwE

— Jordan Subban (@jordansubban) January 23, 2022

The ECHL indefinitely suspended Panetta for the incident, pending a hearing, and the Iceman later announced that they are releasing the defenseman. In response to the incident and Subban's social media posts, Pannetta shared a video recording his statement on Sunday night. 

This incident occurred about a day after San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik was suspended 30 games for making a racist gesture toward Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners on Jan. 12. Imana shared a few words on the frequency of these incidents in the game and re-shared Subban's tweet describing the incident with Panetta. 

Ukranian Hockey League player Jalen Smereck, who was another target of a racist gesture in 2021, also shared his thoughts on the incident with Subban this weekend. 

"It's the first month of 2022 and there has already been two racial gestures in the second and third highest leagues in North America," Smereck said on Instagram. "Just think about how many are happening at the youth level to young kids that we don't see or ever know about, because the game isn't being recorded."


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