Hockey players love to talk about culture but the game’s culture took another disgraceful hit on the weekend in the Ukrainian Hockey League. During a game between HC Kremenchuk and HC Donbass Donetsk, HC Kremenchuk player Andrei Deniskin mimicked peeling a banana in front of HC Donbass Donetsk player Jalen Smereck, who is black.
Deniskin was ejected from the game and faces further disciplinary action from both the UHL and the IIHF. Meanwhile, Smereck received messages of support from Florida Panthers forward Anthony Duclair and ex-NHLers such as J.T. Brown and Kevin Weekes.
Am I surprised? No. This is still a huge issue in this game. Can’t wait to hear this punishment, a lot on the line for the future of this game. https://t.co/DX86RzbeCJ
— Anthony Duclair (@aduclair10) September 27, 2021
Smereck is from Detroit. He played in the Arizona Coyotes organization until the end of last season, when he signed to play in Ukraine. Smereck skated in the OHL with the Flint Firebirds. While climbing the hockey ladder, he played in the Little Caesars youth hockey program operated by the Ilitch family, owners of the Detroit Red Wings. Among his youth hockey teammates were Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and Griffin McCarty, the son of former Red Wings forward Darren McCarty.
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