As Jalen Smereck leaves the Ukrainian Hockey League and joins the DEL, his true story has only just begun – The Athletic


When Jalen Smereck arrived in Ukraine, he was surprised by the apparent absence of fire trucks. He was struck by the age of his new environment, describing it as “cool to see”, while taking into account the technologies of his country. At 24, he was learning a whole new part of the world.

But as Smereck adjusted to life there, he also felt the weight of a seven-hour jetlag, the time never quite appropriate to call home in Detroit and talk to his twins. of 4 years. When they woke up, he would be in training. When he was out of the rink, they would go out or start their day.

“It has been difficult,” Smereck said by phone recently of his estrangement from his family. “Sometimes I have to stay up a little late just to talk to them, and really get a chance to sit down and FaceTime them and see them.”

Smereck had gone to Ukraine for many reasons. After playing the last three seasons for Tucson, Norfolk and Rapid City with the Arizona Coyotes organization, Smereck – a left-handed defenseman – was interested in the road overseas. He wanted to restore his offensive game while playing a key role. He also liked the idea of ​​spending time in Ukraine, where he has ancestors from his father’s side.

And, after receiving an offer from HC Donbass in the UHL, he was intrigued by the possibility of playing in the Hockey Champions League, a aptly named tournament in which top teams from across Europe compete against each other throughout. throughout the season.

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