The suspension stems from a racism incident which occurred on 26 September, 2021 in a Ukrainian Hockey League game between HC Kremenchuk against HC Donbass.
At 35:01 of that game, Denyskin was involved in an incident with a player on the HC Donbass team, and each were assessed a double minor penalty for roughing. Prior to proceeding to the penalty box to serve that penalty, Denyskin made a racist gesture towards a different HC Donbass player named Jalen Smereck, a black player.
Denyskin was penalized with a game misconduct penalty according to Rule 75, clause 5, subclause 2 of the Official IIHF Rule Book. He later received a 13-game suspension imposed by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine.
“Racist gestures, comments or actions have absolutely no place in the game of ice hockey, or anywhere, for that matter,” said IIIHF President Luc Tardif. “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.”
The Deciding Panel determined that Andri Denyskin is hereby suspended for one year and disqualified from participating in all IIHF-sanctioned events and all international competition, which includes exhibition games, friendly games or games of a similar nature with another IIHF Member National Association (MNA).
The length of time taken for the Board to come to a decision in the Denyskin case was due in large part to the fact that, as required by the new IIHF Council term, a new IIIHF Ethics Board and Disciplinary Board had to be appointed following the IIHF Council elections that took place during the 2021 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress in September.
Denyskin has already served a 13-game league suspension, which was the maximum penalty that could be imposed by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine. Maxym Urda, the Referee-in-Chief for the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine, acknowledged during Denyskin’s hearing that the 13-game suspension that had been imposed on him was the maximum possible under the current rules, but indicated that this needed to be amended to allow more severe punishment for such incidents. The IIHF has decided that it will now work with the Ukraine Federation to ensure their rules are amended to provide the possibility have longer/harsher suspensions.
During a hearing with the Deciding Panel, Denyskin immediately acknowledged that his actions were wrong and stated that he apologized personally to Smereck and repeatedly throughout the disciplinary processes. There is no question in this case that the gesture in question was racist, and Denyskin has admitted that throughout all of the proceedings. Denyskin indicated that as soon as the game was over, he had gone to the dressing room of HC Donbass and apologized to Jalen Smereck and they shook hands.