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One of the more abhorrent scenes to have played out on a sheet of ice happened over the weekend in Ukraine, and the victim is demanding action.
Jalen Smereck, a Black forward with HC Donbass and a former Arizona Coyotes prospect, posted a note on Instagram on Tuesday stating that he is taking a leave of absence from the Ukrainian Hockey League side and will not play another game until Andrei Deniskin is "removed from the league."
— Julian McKenzie (@jkamckenzie) September 28, 2021
It's a valid and understandable request from Smereck, who was targeted by Deniskin with the blatantly racist and unconscionable action of miming the peeling and eating of a banana following a confrontation between whistles.
The Ukrainian Hockey League denounced the action, calling it "unacceptable within the framework of a civilized society" and stated that it will open disciplinary proceedings. It seemed the league would have support and/or influence from the IIHF, with newly-minted president Luc Tardif also calling for action in a statement released 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."
The hope should be that Smereck's stance helps ensure that Deniskin is, as the IIHF stated, sanctioned appropriately.
Deniskin did issue an apology, though it wildly and predictably missed the mark. The HC Kremenchuk forward posted a now-deleted statement on Instagram stating his regret for performing "a gesture that someone can consider as an insult in race."
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