Sometimes, things happen fast.
The Arizona Coyotes have renounced the rights to prospect Mitchell Miller, the club announced Thursday.
“We have decided to renounce the rights to Mitchell Miller, effective immediately,” Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said. “Prior to selecting Mitchell in the NHL Draft, we were aware that a bullying incident took place in 2016. We do not condone this type of behavior but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts.”
As we discussed, the 18-year-old defenceman was drafted by Arizona in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. As Gutierrez notes, the team was aware of a “bullying incident.” But that incident wasn’t just an incident, it resulted in formal charges in an Ohio juvenile court.
Miller was charged with not only physical assault and racist abuse but other bullying behaviours, including tricking his victim into “licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal.” His victim was Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black classmate with developmental disabilities.
“I fully support our decision to renounce Mitchell Miller’s draft rights,” Coyotes general manager Armstrong said. “It was a unique situation for me not being able to participate in this year’s Draft and we were going through a transition with our scouting department. Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we need to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team. I’d like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family for everything they have dealt with the past few months. I wish them all the best in the future.”
Armstrong was not permitted to join his new team for the draft after leaving his post with St. Louis in September.
Prior to the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Miller made sure he covered his bases by sending a letter to all 31 teams to address the bullying and abuse in his past.
But according to the Meyer-Crothers family, Miller did not apologize to his victim.
“Put yourself in our position. Would you be okay with it?” Isaiah’s mother Joni said. “It’s a joke that a sports team, especially with all the stuff going on with Black Lives Matter, would do this.”
Image: Codie McLachlan/CP