Andrei Deniskin faces a tsunami of reactions from the hockey community after this “deplorable act” in a professional game.
HC Kremenchuk forward Andrei Deniskin has faced heated reactions from the hockey community after his “deplorable act” in a Ukrainian Hockey League game last month.
During the second term of a match between HC Kremenchuk and HC Donbass on September 26, Deniskin aimed at peeling and eating a banana in the direction of black opponent Jalen Smereck.
He was immediately removed from the game.
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The Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation handed Deniskin a 13-game ban after the incident, but only three were mandatory.
The 23-year-old could avoid the remaining 10 games if his club were to pay a fine of 50,000 hryvnia, which amounts to about AUD$2,500.
Deniskin posted an apology on Instagram: “I want to apologize to the player of the hockey club Donbass Jalen Smereck.
“During the Kremenchuk – Donbass match, I showed, in negative emotions, a gesture that someone might consider an insult in the race.
“I respect all people, regardless of their race or nationality. Emotions in hockey can be different unfortunately.”
The hockey world was outraged by Deniskin’s actions, with many fans suggesting that his punishment was not severe enough.
HC Donbass said in a statement he was “outraged” by Deniskin’s behavior.
“(The) Donetsk club rejects any racist expression – racism has no place on the sports fields, nor beyond,” it wrote.
“We will do everything we can to support our hockey player, while at the same time calling the Disciplinary Commission for the strictest possible sentence for the Kremenchuk player.”
HC Donbass head coach Pavel Mikulchik said Smereck was “in a depressed state” after the incident.
“You should see what condition he came in today,” Mikulchik told HC Donbass’s website.
“He couldn’t start the training process. I think he got thousands of phone calls and texts. He is in a depressed state.
“We believe that racism has no place.”
The Hockey Diversity Alliance wrote on Twitter: “The hockey community is gathering around him and this is just another example showing how hockey is NOT for everyone. The higher people must stand up and make the right decision. They are an example for everyone.”
Tampa Bay Lightning striker Matheiu Joseph tweeted: “Should never again (allowed) or have the opportunity to play hockey. I am more than outraged. Hurts to see. I can’t wait to hear the suspension.”
Hockey Diversity Alliance chairman Akim Aliu tweeted: “This is a complete disgrace. How are we as a POC (people of color) ever supposed to trust the system if it doesn’t protect us at every turn. On and OFF the ice.”
The National Hockey League Players’ Association called Deniskin’s actions “deplorable”, while Luc Tardif, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said the incident was “a direct attack on the ideals and values of our game”.
“We will ensure that all necessary investigations into ethical violations are made to ensure that this behavior is appropriately punished,” Tardif said.
Wayne Simmonds of Toronto Maple Leafs told reporters: “It’s gotten to the point where this is sickening, it’s disgusting. The way that man did what he did without any hesitation makes me sick.
“To know that I’ve been allowed to play hockey and potentially let my kids play hockey to deal with these kinds of incidents, I understand why people probably don’t want to play hockey.”
Colorado Avalanche star Nazem Kadri labeled the punishment “pathetic.”
“What a clumsy attempt by the Ukrainian league to get a player to buy back his games after a vulgar and unacceptable act,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Pathful abuse by whoever is in charge. Of course they tolerate this kind of behavior, which is a shame.”