Ukrainian hockey player suspended three games for racial slur against former Oshawa General

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Published September 29, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Jalen Smereck with the Oshawa Generals in 2015-16. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The Ukrainian Hockey League player ejected from a game Sunday for making a racist gesture to former Oshawa General Jalen Smereck has been suspended three games by the league – with an option to buy his way out of a further ten-game ban – a decision that has drawn widespread criticism for being far too lenient.

Smereck’s club, HC Donbass Donetsk, said the suspension and fine – the equivalent of $1,870 USD – was not enough and demanded a “re-consideration” of the decision by the league.

The suspension and the fine are the maximum allowed under the league’s rules.

The racist incident, which involved the tired trope of unpeeling a banana, occurred in the second period of Sunday’s game. Denyskin was kicked out of the match and later gave a weak apology – “a gesture that someone can consider as an insult in race,” he said – that he later deleted.

Support for Smereck, who played for the Generals and Flint Firebirds of the OHL and later suited up for seven games for Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate in Tucson, came in quickly from his former clubs, the OHL and NHL and dozens of current and former players.

Backlash to the suspension was just as swift, with Akim Aliu, who chairs the Hockey Diversity Alliance, calling it a complete embarrassment.”

Smereck posted on Instagram Tuesday he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the club and that he was done playing in the Ukraine until Denyskin is “suspended and removed from the league.”

There is no word yet from his account whether he plans to return to the league.

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