Furious reaction to star’s ‘sickening’ gesture
Andrei Deniskin is copping a tsunami of backlash from the hockey community following this “deplorable act” in a professional game.
HC Kremenchuk forward Andrei Deniskin is copping heated backlash from the hockey community following 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 mimed peeling and eating a banana in the direction of Black opponent Jalen Smereck.
He was immediately ejected from the game.
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The Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation handed Deniskin a 13-game suspension following the incident, but only three were mandatory.
The 23-year-old could avoid serving the remaining 10 games if his club paid a 50,000 hryvnia fine, which equates to about AUD$2500.
Deniskin posted an apology to Instagram: “I want to publicly apologise to the player of the hockey club Donbass Jalen Smereck.
“During the match Kremenchuk – Donbass, I, being in negative emotions, showed a gesture that someone may consider as an insult in race.
“I respect all people regardless of their race or nationality. Emotions in hockey, unfortunately, can be different.”
The hockey world was outraged by Deniskin’s actions, with many fans suggesting his punishment was not severe enough.
HC Donbass said in a statement it was “outraged” by Deniskin’s behaviour.
“(The) Donetsk club rejects any racist manifestations – racism has no place neither on the sports fields, nor outside them,” it wrote.
“We will do everything possible to support our hockey player, while at the same time we call the Disciplinary Committee for the strictest possible punishment for the Kremenchuk player.”
HC Donbass head coach Pavel Mikulchik said Smereck was “in a depressed state” following the incident.
“You should see in what condition he came today,” Mikulchik told the HC Donbass website.
“He could not start the training process. I think he received thousands of calls and texts of support. He’s in a depressed state.
“We believe that racism has no place anywhere.”
The Hockey Diversity Alliance wrote on Twitter: “The hockey community rallies around him and this is just another example showcasing how hockey is NOT for everyone. The higher-ups must stand up and make the right decision. They set an example for everyone.”
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Matheiu Joseph tweeted: “Shouldn’t be (allowed) or given a chance to play hockey ever again. I am beyond disgusted. Hurts to watch. I cannot wait to hear the suspension.”
Hockey Diversity Alliance Chair Akim Aliu tweeted: “This is a complete embarrassment. How are we as POC (people of colour) ever supposed to trust the system when at every turn it fails to protect us. On and OFF the ice.”
The National Hockey League Players‘ Association called Deniskin‘s actions a “deplorable”, while International Ice Hockey Federation President Luc Tardif said the incident was “a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game”.
“We will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately,” Tardif said.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds told reporters: “It‘s come to the point to where this is sickening, it’s disgusting. The way that guy did what he did without any hesitancy makes me sick to my stomach.
“To know that I got to play hockey and potentially have my children play hockey to face these types of incidents I can see why people probably don‘t want to play hockey.”
Colorado Avalanche star Nazem Kadri labelled the punishment as “pathetic.”
“What a fumble by the Ukrainian league to allow a player to buy his games back after a vulgar and unacceptable action,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Pathetic mishandle by whoever is in charge. Obviously they tolerate this kind of behaviour, it’s a shame.”
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