Former Oshawa General Jalen Smereck makes brief return to UHL club but will be returning to North America to resume career

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Published October 4, 2021 at 4:14 pm

Jalen Smereck returned to his Ukrainian hockey club Saturday night to support his teammates but his return is likely to be short-lived as the defenceman is looking at returning to North America to continue his career.

Smereck, a former Oshawa General and Flint Firebird, was the subject of a racist taunt September 26  in a Ukrainian Hockey League game, with opposing forward Andrei Deniskin pantomiming eating a banana, a tired racist trope against people of colour.

Smereck, who has received almost universal support from around hockey, said after the game he would be taking a leave of absence until Deniskin was suspended or removed from the league.

Deniskin was suspended for 13 games, the maximum allowed under league rules, a sentence Smereck and others in the hockey world condemned as insufficient.

Evgeniy Kolychev, who was the general manager of the league, was fired after posting a video of the taunting incident and speaking out against racism in Ukrainian hockey.

Smereck, who said he has had numerous offers to play in the AHL and ECHL, played Saturday during his Donbass club’s 5-2 win over HC Krasmatork and said he will play in Wednesday’s Champions Hockey League match against Klagenfurt AC before returning to North America.

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