IIHF and UHL condemn disgusting gesture directed at Jalen Smereck during game

Jalen Smereck
Jul 7, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; A Tampa Bay Lightning player handles a puck during warm ups before game five of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The game of hockey still has plenty of work to do in changing its culture around the world.

An appalling incident took place in a UHL game that caught the attention of new IIHF President Luc Tardiff.

“The IIHF condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of Andri Denyskin. There is no place for such a blatantly racist and unsportsmanlike gesture in our sport and in society,” he said in a statement. “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 behavior is sanctioned appropriately.”

Ugly incident in UHL game

The incident happened on Sunday during the second period of a contest between Jalen Smereck’s team HC Donbass against HC Kremenchuk. That’s when a racial gesture, which is going viral on social media, was directed at Smereck, who is a Black hockey player from Detroit.

Eugene Kolychev, who runs the Ukranian Hockey League posted a strong statement which Smereck responded with praying hands.

“Being General Manager of the UHL, I declare that there is no place for racism in Ukrainian professional hockey,” he wrote. “The UHL will follow closely the investigation of Disciplinary Committee in Federation of Hockey in Ukraine into the case of racist abuse aimed at Jalen Smereck.”

The hockey world is watching

The NHLPA has issued a statement in response to the incident saying: “The NHLPA stands with Jalen Smereck and the hockey community against this deplorable act. Racism has no place in the game.”

Kevin Weekes, who is one of the most prominent Black voices in the game today is calling on the IIHF and UHL to respond accordingly.

“Hello IIHF and UHL; hoping your decision is minimum 1 year suspension without pay in all league and international competitions,” Weekes requested. “This player’s actions are both hurtful and inexcusable. I eagerly await your appropriate and punitive response.”

The hockey world is watching and waiting for both organizations to take action.

“Am I surprised? No. This is still a huge issue in this game,” Panthers forward Anthony Duclair wrote. “Can’t wait to hear this punishment, a lot on the line for the future of this game.”

Jalen has our support as well.