During the second period of a game in the Ukrainian Hockey League on Sunday September 26th, Andrei Deniskin the forward for the HC Kremenchuk forward acted out the motion of peeling and eating a banana towards American Jalen Smereck, who plays for HC Donbass. Following the racist act, Deniskin was kicked out of the game, with disciplinary actions to follow.
The recent ruling has determined that Denyskin is suspended for three games, plus an additional 10 games that can be negated if he chooses to pay a $1,880 USD fine instead. The three games are a mandatory suspension in accordance with the Ukraine Hockey Federation’s disciplinary code, for when a player uses gestures or expressions “related to racial discrimination.” The additional 10 games are the maximum amount the federation is allowed to give.
Jalen Smereck has responded to the light punishment saying he won’t play another game in the Ukrainian Hockey League until Deniskin is “removed from the league”. Others have come to Smereck’s side and are also outraged by the suspension. They believe IIHF should be doing more in this incident.
This is a clear example on how racism is still very prevalent in hockey today. The NHL is composed of 93% of players who identified as white, with the remaining 7% identifying as varying ethnicities. This racial injustice in hockey extends past the elite level of the NHL into local levels of hockey and into other leagues abroad.
The low diversity shows how the organizations themselves have little urge to be part of the solution in eliminating racism in hockey is still very prevalent in hockey today. The penalties to these actions are not as severe as they need to be. Incidents similar to this occurs more often than sometimes reported. This racial injustice in hockey extends past the elite level of hockey into local levels and into other leagues abroad. The organizations themselves need to be doing more when it comes to punishing and preventing this problem.