Ukrainian league GM says he was fired for speaking out against racism

·2 min read
Jalen Smereck, pictured as a member of the Oshawa Generals. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
Jalen Smereck, pictured as a member of the Oshawa Generals. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

When it comes to Andrei Deniskin and his ability to skate past appropriate punishment, we're starting to see a more complete picture.

Ukrainian Hockey League general manager Eugene Kolychev tweeted Thursday that he was fired by the league for "speaking openly" about racism in Ukrainian hockey. He said his voice has been "ignored" in the fallout of Deniskin's blatantly racist and unacceptable taunt directed at Black HC Donbass forward Jalen Smereck last weekend, and has now called on the International Ice Hockey Federation to conduct its own investigation and "help end racism."

The horrific incident, which has allegedly led to Kolychev's dismissal, saw Deniskin mime the unpeeling and eating of a banana after shouting at Smereck between whistles. Smereck stated on Instagram a few days later that he would not play another game for HC Donbass until Deniskin was removed from the league. 

One day later, the UHL handed down its suspension, which added up to 13 games — or the maximum allowable under the league's rules and regulations. Contrary to initial reports, Deniskin doesn't have the option to "buy" his way out of the suspension.

Regardless, an exception should have been made, and it appears that Kolychev, who should have had the power to make a stand, advocated for a harsher punishment to no avail.

It's believed the IIHF will deliver some sort of punishment, but it's unclear if hockey's governing body can affect the UHL decision. It can, however, bar Deniskin from international competition for the Ukrainian National team, which should be the expectation of new president Luc Tardif.

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