Ukrainian Hockey League’s weak punishment being met with justified criticism

UHL weak punishment draws criticism.

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 UHL has issued a 3 plus 10 game ban to Andri Denyskin for his racist gesture. A fine could be paid instead of serving the additional 10 games.

Update: Per TSN’s Gord Miller, Denyskin must serve all 13 games. “According to the Federation official, Deniskin can NOT pay the fine instead of serving the 10 games,” he tweeted. “An official with the Ukrainian Hockey League apparently tweeted out incorrect information earlier today, using the word “or” instead of “and” when referring to the fine.”

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.

This decision is being met with harsh and justifiable criticism from all over the hockey world. The IIHF has yet to pass a ruling on if he will be banned from international play.

Players speak out

Jalen Smereck has taken a leave of absence and no one would fault him if decided to stop playing in the UHL.

Akim Aliu, who has faced racism in hockey called the ruling “a complete embarrassment.”

Anthony Duclair, who plays for the Florida Panthers was blunt in his criticism. “Basically we’re telling kids if you make a racist gesture you’ll be back playing in a couple weeks,” he tweeted.

NHL agent Brian Bartlett not only called out the league, but said he would never send a player there and will encourage other agents to do the same.

This story continues to evolve and hopefully the IIHF will make a strong statement.