Jalen Smereck, who played two games for the Komets in 2017-18, was the victim of a racist taunt over the weekend in a Ukrainian league game.
Andrei Deniskin, who plays for HC Kremenchuk, was ejected after pretending to peel and eat a banana as he taunted Smereck, a 24-year-old Detroit native, who skates for HC Donbass.
The International Ice Hockey Federation condemned the act, tweeting: “This a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game, and we will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately.”
Deniskin, according to the Sporting News, apologized on Instagram: “"I want to express my public apology to Jalen Smereck. ... I, being in negative emotions, showed a gesture that someone can consider as an insult in race. I respect all people regardless of their race or nationality. Emotions in hockey, unfortunately, are different."
Smereck, who spent much of his North American career in the American Hockey League, had one assist with the Komets as a defenseman. He played in the ECHL’s 2019 All-Star Game at Toledo, Ohio, representing the Norfolk Admirals.