Andrew Shaw becomes the first NHL player to defend Jacob Panetta.

Shaw is taking a big risk.

Jonathan Larivee

There was a major controversy over the weekend involving ECHL defenseman Jacob Panetta and fellow ECHL defenseman Jordan Subban and if you've missed any of it I would highly recommend you check out our earlier story on the topic here before reading on.

Long story short, Panetta is accused of having made a racially insensitive gesture in the direction of Subban but, unlike most cases like this where the situation is usually pretty cut and dry, Panetta has outright denied any wrongdoing in this scenario. Panetta has also published video evidence of him making the same gesture at another player in the past and has argued that there was no racially based motivation behind his actions, but that hasn't stopped him from being the target of an overwhelming amount of criticism.

Thus far many players have spoken out in defense of Jordan Subban and it appeared as though Panetta would be left to plead his case on his own, but now one former National Hockey League player has spoken out in his defense. That player is former Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw, and it is important to note that Shaw is related to Panetta. That of course could mean that his take on this situation will be biased by his connection to Panetta, but it also may be true that he knows the young man better than most.

Shaw took to social media and issued a fairly lengthy statement where he called for "Love not hate," and you can read it here unedited and in full:

First of all I want to say I support the movement and I treat everyone as equals I don;t judge a person by the color of their skin or there sexual orientation! I judge people for the person they are, and Jacob is an amazing person! He is being judged in the media for an incident that was misinterpreted! Yes it looks bad but there is evidence that his done the “tough guy” pose in a few other games to players of non color! I believe him when he says there was no intent to be racist with his gesture. I also empathize with Jordan, the Subban family and all people of color for everything they have been through! It’s wrong and things need to change! I know at heart that Jacob Panetta my cousin is sincere with his apology And he meant no harm to Jordan or to people of color! I watched PK’s press conference and I stand with you, it’s about getting better as a community, standing together to improve ourselves as a whole! I know I’m going to get a lot of back lash for making this statement and I’m prepared for that! I’ve made mistakes in life and I’ve learned from them and it’s made me a better person! I believe in justice, but I promise that I believe Jacob in what he said! Please don’t be so quick to judge and allow the media to get both sides of the story out there. Love over hate!

As Shaw said in his statement he was expecting plenty of backlash for issuing a message of this nature and thus far he has faced exactly that. Several fans on social media are taking exception to his comments, but I would caution everyone not to rush to judgement. After all if there are indeed multiple instances of Panetta making this gesture in the past, as Panetta claims there are, it will be relatively easy for an investigation to verify that through video of his playing career.