San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik has been suspended for 30 games for using a racial gesture, the American Hockey League announced on Friday.
Hrabik directed the racial gesture toward the Tucson Roadrunners' Boko Imama, who is Black, during Tucson's 4-3 win against San Jose on Jan. 12.
"The AHL stands with Boko Imama," AHL President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson said in a statement. "It is unfair that any player should be subjected to comments or gestures based on their race; they should be judged only on their ability to perform as a player on the ice, as a teammate in the locker room and as a member of their community."
Hrabik, who already has served three games of his suspension, will be eligible to return to the Barracuda lineup on April 3, but he can apply for a suspension reduction as early as March 12. Early reinstatement will be based on his progress in racism sensitivity training with the National Hockey League’s Player Inclusion Committee.
In a statement issued later Friday, Hrabik said he was "embarrassed by the actions that led to my suspension" and said he would not appeal the suspension.
"People should know that I had absolutely no inappropriate intent," Hrabik said. "The gesture was made in the heat of battle and while I didn't mean anything racist by what I did, I realize now through my own ignorance how my gesture could be interpreted."
He said he was "horrified by what I had done" when he learned of Imama's reaction and said he sent him a "personal apology."
"I fully accept the consequences of my actions and am not appealing the discipline imposed by the AHL," Hrabik said.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) January 22, 2022
The Barracuda said Hrabik was "immediately removed from all team activities" on Jan. 13 after the team learned of the gesture. They issued an apology to Imama.
"The Barracuda and San Jose Sharks organizations were appalled to learn of this incident," the organization said in a statement on Friday. "We offer our sincerest apologies to Boko, the Roadrunners organization, the AHL, our fans, and the entire hockey community."
The statement continued: "While we support the ability for individuals to atone and learn from disrespectful incidents in this context, these actions are in direct opposition to the Barracuda and Sharks organizations’ values."
PREVIOUS INCIDENT: Boko Imama was subjected to an earlier racial incident
Imama has experienced racism before. In 2020, the Bakersfield Condors' Brandon Manning used a racial slur toward Imama, who played for the Ontario Reign at the time.
Manning issued an apology and was suspended for five games.
"It's frustrating and disheartening that this is still going on in 2022!" Imama wrote on Twitter. "Even though I honestly believe the sport has made positive strides, WE still have a long way to go to educate the ignorant and make hockey a safe place for everyone.
"My hope is that people learn from this and that some day hockey will truly be for everyone."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Krystof Hrabik suspended 30 games by AHL for racial gesture