Earlier today, it was announced that Ukrainian player Andri Denyskin has been suspended for a racist gesture towards defenseman Jalen Smereck.
Update on this disciplinary case from the Ukrainian Hockey League. The Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine has issued a suspension of 3+10 games against Andri Denyskin for his racist gesture.— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) September 29, 2021
Full decision (in Ukrainian): https://t.co/sHougLRIIU https://t.co/Zi9YEqBSoO
During a game against, Denyskin mimed peeling and eating a banana at former Coyotes prospect Jalen Smereck.
Smereck has posted on Instagram that he will be taking a leave of absence and not playing until Andrey Deniskin is removed from the league.
Reaction to the ruling from the North American press has been largely negative. Deniskin will be suspended for at least three games, with the possibility of being suspended an additional game if he chooses not to pay the fine of 50,000 Ukrainian hryvnias ($1,870.00 US).
Critics are right to be disappointed in the ruling. Three games is a laughably short suspension for anything, much less an overtly racist gesture during the middle of a hockey game, and the fine that Deniskin would have to pay is fairly small. If the league wanted to send a message that racism was not going to be tolerated, they failed in that attempt.
Since the decision was announced, Jalen Smereck has yet to make a public statement, only retweeting the announcement with ellipses.
Smereck’s club HC Donbass has tweeted a demand for reconsideration, but what can be done remains to be seen. Elliotte Friedman recommended the IIHF send a strong message to the league, noting the organization could impose hurdles on Olympic/World Championship participation and changes to funding.
Lost in all of this is what Smereck will do. Before this, Smereck mainly had split time between the Tucson Roadrunners and the Coyotes’ ECHL affiliate, either the Rapid City Rush, Norfolk Admirals, or Fort Wayne Komets.