New IIHF President Launches Ethics Inquiry Into Racist Incident In Ukraine

IIHF President Luc Tardif

By Scott Burnside

Luc Tardif, the new president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), has asked the IIHF’s ethics committee to investigate the racial taunting incident in Ukraine that has sparked global outrage. This group will report its findings and recommendations for further sanctions to the IIHF Disciplinary Board, likely within the next 10 days.

Another action against HK Kremenchuk player Andrei Denyskin, who mimed eating a banana to HC Donbass Donetsk defender Jalen Smereck, – who is black in a Ukrainian Hockey League game – could include being banned from participating in events international like the next World Championships. It may also include the refusal to allow Denyskin to be transferred to a team led by another IIHF member outside of Ukraine, new IIHF president Luc Tardif told in a long interview.

In addition, Tardif said the IIHF will require each IIHF member country to create wording in its individual rules to govern racial incidents by the start of next season and that failure to comply with those penalties will result in an intervention by the IIHF.

« And if they don’t, we can take the lead, » Tardif said. « We’ll do anything to make sure this guy (Denyskin) or others don’t do these things. »

The IIHF does not have the power to overrule the existing rules of federations like the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, which issued a 13-game suspension against Denyskin following the racist act, although Tardif said to have tried to put pressure on the Ukrainian hockey organization to impose a more severe sentence. This sanction was the most severe according to the code of conduct of the Ukrainian league. Yet the decision was condemned in the hockey world for its leniency.

It was after the suspension was announced that Tardif asked the ethics committee of five IIHF members to investigate. The IIHF Disciplinary Council has nine members.

“It’s my decision,” Tardif said. « I can do it. »

« We can push them to change their rules, and they will, » Tardif added. “Now they know they have to change. « 

Tardif, originally from Trois-Rivières, Que., Played briefly in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before playing hockey in Europe and then settling in France. He took over from longtime president René Fasel a day before the racial incident in the Ukrainian Hockey League and plans to visit Ukraine after a resolution was issued by the disciplinary council. Tardif also plans to meet with Smereck and Denyskin in person.

“I want to go talk to him and make sure he knows we’re behind him,” Tardif said of Smereck. « And also talk to the other guy [Denyskin] to make sure he understands what he’s done.

Tardif was appointed the first president of the French Ice Hockey Federation in 2006 and was first elected to a post of IIHF treasurer in 2012. He said that the fight against racism and homophobia, as well as in-game violence and performance-enhancing drugs were top priorities. he stressed in his campaign to become president of the IIHF. He replaced Fasel, who retired after leading the international hockey organization for 27 years.

“I think it’s really important to make sure that we don’t let this stuff into our house,” Tardif said.

In other international news, Tardif said concerns over the competitiveness of the China’s men’s hockey team have led to the scheduling of a series of test matches in November that will determine whether the host country will set up a team in the United States. Beijing Games next February.

The IIHF has provided the Chinese federation with a list of eligible players from which their team can be chosen. A team formed from this roster will play two games against a Continental Hockey League team or a Russian “B” League team during a break in the KHL schedule between November 11-14. The matches are expected to take place in Russia, Tardif said.

IIHF officials will watch the games and determine whether the Chinese are competitive enough to retain their place in the 12-team men’s tournament which begins in Beijing on February 9.

South Korea followed a similar process ahead of the PyeongChang Olympic tournament in 2018 and were allowed to participate, although they lost every game and were outscored by a 19-3 aggregate. The 2018 Olympics men’s hockey tournament did not feature NHL players, who had competed in every Olympic tournament since 1998 in Nagano. But the NHL will return for the Beijing Games and fears that the Chinese team will be crushed in every game are very real.

Tardif said the IIHF will not change the eligibility rules to allow them to recruit more talented players for the Olympics and that Chinese officials are aware that their place in the Olympic tournament is not assured.

« It’s clear with them, it’s clear with the IOC (International Olympic Committee), it’s the process, » said Tardif.

If, as critics have complained in recent months, the Chinese national team is not ready to participate in the Olympic tournament based on the results of the test games, Norway is expected to take the place of the China at the Beijing Games and play in a group of teams. which includes the United States, Canada and Germany.

Tardif is also expected to meet face-to-face with key NHLPA and NHL leaders, including Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, at the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the mid-November.

Tardif was unsure whether his first face-to-face meeting with critical hockey partners would take place in New York or Toronto, where the Hall of Fame ceremonies are being held. But he would like to discuss reviving the NHL’s once strong international calendar beyond Olympic participation.

“I think we have to find a way,” Tardif said. “We have to find a way and relaunch the discussions. I will try to do it my way.

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