Ukrainian Hockey League game marred by racist incident
The International Ice Hockey Federation and NHL Players' Association have expressed their support for HC Donbass Donetsk defenceman Jalen Smereck after he was subjected to a racist gesture by HC Kremenchuk player Andrei Deniskin in a Ukrainian Hockey League game on Sunday.
Deniskin was ejected from the game after taunting Smereck, who is Black, by mimicking peeling a banana and eating it. He faces further discipline from the league, pending an investigation.
"The IIHF condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of Andri Denyskin," said IIHF President Luc Tardif in a statement on Monday. "There is no place for such a blatantly racist and unsportsmanlike gesture in our sport and in society.
"This a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game, and we will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately."
Deniskin issued an apology to his Instagram account following the incident, but the post was later deleted.
"Donbass Hockey club strongly denies all forms of discrimination and is outraged by the behavior of Andrei Deniskin." HC Donbass said in a statement. "Racism has no place on sports grounds or outside of them."
Smereck, from Detroit, Mich., played 17 games for the Tucson Roadrunners, Arizona's AHL affiliate, in 2020-21.
"The NHLPA stands with @jalen_smereck and the hockey community against this deplorable act," the NHL Players' Association tweeted on Monday. "Racism has no place in the game."