The International Ice Hockey Federation has suspended Ukrainian national team forward Andrei Denyskin for one year after he directed a racist gesture towards an opponent during a game in the Ukrainian Hockey League in September of 2021.
During the second period of a game between HC Donbas and HC Kremenchuk, Denyskin directed a racial gesture towards Donbas forward Jalen Smereck, a black player, while making his way to the penalty box.
Denyskin was issued a game misconduct by the officiating crew on the ice at the time and was later given a 13-game suspension by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine.
Now, as a result of today's ruling, Denyskin will be prohibited from participating in any IIHF sanctioned events for the span of one year. That includes any international competitions in which he would represent his home country.
“Racist gestures, comments or actions have absolutely no place in the game of ice hockey, or anywhere, for that matter,” IIHF President Luc Tardiff said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Denyskin’s actions are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. While he has already served the suspension of thirteen games from his club team’s league play, the Deciding Panel has determined that a further period of suspension is required.”
Today's suspension will also bring about change in how instances of racial abuse are punished in the Ukrainian Hockey League moving forward. Denyskin's 13-game suspension by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine was, at the time, the maximum allowable sentence the organization could hand out.
According to a statement following today's ruling, the IIHF will now be working with the Federation of Ukraine to amend their rules in order to allow for harsher and longer penalties for racial abuse in the future.