Jalen Smereck, target of racist taunt, parts ways with Ukrainian Hockey League club

·1 min read
Jalen Smereck, shown in this file photo with the Arizona Coyotes in 2016, reached a mutual agreement with Ukranian Hockey League team HC Donbass to terminate his contract on Sunday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images - image credit)
Jalen Smereck, shown in this file photo with the Arizona Coyotes in 2016, reached a mutual agreement with Ukranian Hockey League team HC Donbass to terminate his contract on Sunday. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images - image credit)

Jalen Smereck, the target of a racist taunt during a Ukrainian Hockey League game, has come to a "mutual agreement" with HC Donbass, to terminate his contract, according to a statement released by the team on Sunday.

In a Sept. 26 game, HC Kremenchuk player Andrei Deniskin taunted the American defenceman, who is Black, with a gesture that mimed peeling a banana and eating it.

The gesture was captured on video and has been widely circulated.

In the release, the Ukrainian club thanked Smereck for his tenure and wished him "good luck in his future career." Smereck has yet to comment on the decision.

XSport/Ukraine League
XSport/Ukraine League

The UHL had suspended Deniskin for three games, and an additional 10 games, unless he paid a fine of 50,000 hryvnia (around $2,400 CAD).

Denyskin apologized for the gesture in a social media post that has since been deleted.

HC Donbass stated on Twitter that it had demanded a tougher punishment for Deniskin.

Smereck later posted on Instagram that he was taking a leave of absence until Deniskin is "suspended and removed from the league."

Deniskin's actions have been widely condemned, with the International Ice Hockey Federation and NHL Players' Association among the organizations speaking out.

Following the suspension of Deniskin, Eugene Kolychev, the general manager of the Ukrainian Hockey League claimed he had been fired by the Federation.

Smereck, who is from Detroit, played 17 games last season with the Tucson Roadrunners, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes.

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