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'It's distasteful': Devils' P.K. Subban doesn't want pity, seeks change after racist incident

USA TODAY
USA TODAY
 2022-01-24

NEWARK, N.J. – P.K. Subban couldn't sleep after the New Jersey Devils' victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. The Devils defenseman had bigger things to worry about – his family.

He spent the night stewing about what had happened with his brother, Jordan Subban, a defenseman of the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

Twenty-three seconds into overtime in a game between the Stingrays and Jacksonville Icemen on Saturday night, the teams came together in a clash near corner of the ice. As Jordan Subban and Icemen defenseman Jacob Panetta skated toward their benches, Subban, who is Black, alleged that Panetta made "monkey gestures" toward him.

"Sheer disappointment. It’s distasteful," P.K. Subban said after the Devils' game Sunday night. "There’s no room for it in our game. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed because our game is better than this."

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New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban called out an incident directed toward his brother, Jordan, in the ECHL. Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports

Panetta, who said he was making a bodybuilder gesture, was suspended indefinitely after the game and later released by the Icemen , but the incident sent a tremor throughout the sport.

After the game, P.K. Subban said he felt accountability to call out recent racist actions in the game of hockey because he has established a platform to try to inspire better behavior.

One day before the ECHL incident, the American Hockey League suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik for 30 games after he made a "racist gesture" toward Tucson Roadrunners forward Boko Imama.

"We don’t expect anyone to feel sorry and we don’t really expect anybody to really understand that isn’t Black," P.K. Subban said. "If you’re not Black, you’re not going to understand, and that’s OK with us. You can debate on whether it’s racism, placism, whatever you want. For us, this is life. This is life for us, and that’s what’s sad.

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P.K. Subban of the New Jersey Devils poses in front of one of the murals painted by artists Yasmin De Jesus, Malcolm Rolling, and Matthew Purefoy around the Sharpe James Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation Center. Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com

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"This is life for people who look like me, that have gone through the game of hockey and that’s part of the history, whether we like it or not. We’re trying to change that. I’m an advocate to try and change that, but to do that, we’ve got to bring people together and hopefully this is another step in doing that."

Subban is no stranger to trying to bring people of all communities together. He created the Blueline Buddies program while playing for the Nashville Predators in an effort to allow police officers and underprivileged youth to bond over a night of hockey.

The latest incidents came with Black History Month just over the horizon and on the heels of Willie O'Ree, the first Black player in the NHL, having his No. 22 retired by the Boston Bruins.

Subban said he is also working with former player Anson Carter to continue to work with the NHL on diversity initiatives. He said the support of the Devils and the ownership group, led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, gives him the energy to come to the rink each day.

While not everyone understands what he and other Black players have gone through, Subban hopes bringing it to light can help progress be made.

"Fortunately, his name was Subban on the back of the jersey and he’s got an older brother that plays in the league that understands him, loves him, cares about him and wants to see the league move in the right direction and is willing to do whatever he has to do to move the league in the right direction," P.K. Subban said.

"I think we can take this and turn it into a positive with actionable items, but we can’t glaze over it and think that this is just a misunderstanding."

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: 'It's distasteful': Devils' P.K. Subban doesn't want pity, seeks change after racist incident

Comments / 12

SEbeling2
01-25

your distasteful! your a cheap player that gas injured many others players with your cheap leg swings! stop whinning!

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