This year has not been a banner year for the Arizona Coyotes. Sure, they barely made it into the playoffs, probably because three-quarters of the league were in for some kind of post-season play, but they didn’t last long. First, before the start of phase 3, their General Manager, John Chayka, resigned. Then after they were booted from the playoffs, the team lost draft picks after an adjudication of combine testing violations from last season’s draft.
With their first pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, they selected Mitchell Miller, an American player who is a commit at University of North Dakota. Yesterday, the hockey world found out that Miller is a dirtbag. Miller, 18, pled guilty to a misdemeanor for assaulting a developmentally-disabled black schoolmate when he was 14. While the team, and every NHL team, was aware of his past bullying and racist taunting, they were unaware that Miller hadn’t exactly apologized directly to his victim, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, and his family.
I think this is important. A lot of scouting sites had knowledge of the incident as well, and only one – @eliteprospects – had him graded as a Do Not Draft. Plenty knew what had happened and expected him to get drafted anyway. Sport still needs a massive culture overhaul. https://t.co/suZQUHP3h0
— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) October 26, 2020
Arizona is taking the stance that they can rehabilitate this kid, that team leadership will change his behavior. The Coyotes became the first team purchased by a Hispanic owner, Alex Meruelo, and with a President and CEO, Xavier Gutierrez. Gutierrez was recently named to NHL’s Executive Inclusion Council, which was created to combat racism in hockey.
“Our fundamental mission is to ensure a safe environment — whether in schools, in our community, in hockey rinks, or in the workplace — to be free of bullying and racism. When we first learned of Mitchell’s story, it would have been easy for us to dismiss him — many teams did. Instead, we felt it was our responsibility to be a part of the solution in a real way — not just saying and doing the right things ourselves but ensuring that others are too,” the statement said.
“Given our priorities on diversity and inclusion, we believe that we are in the best position to guide Mitchell into becoming a leader for this cause and preventing bullying and racism now and in the future. As an organization, we have made our expectations very clear to him. We are willing to work with Mitchell and put in the time, effort, and energy and provide him with the necessary resources and platform to confront bullying and racism. This isn’t a story about excuses or justifications. It’s a story about reflection, growth, and community impact. A true leader finds ways for every person to contribute to the solution. We all need to be a part of the solution.”
Akim Aliu got dogged with “character issues” for not tolerating hazing in Junior but Mitchell Miller “deserves a chance to redeem himself” for forcing a Black developmentally disabled kid to eat something him and his buddies rubbed around in a urinal, fuck outta here.
— death metal dad (@briancrd) October 26, 2020
Sure, the same team who determined that Anthony Duclair had “character issues” is willing to give the white kid who actually did something reprehensible extra support to improve his character. While I appreciate that Gutierrez believes that this is a good way to combat racism from the other side, I think that consequences from said behavior have a far more profound effect especially given that he has not once personally apologized to Meyer-Crothers. Any apology that he has made has seemed to be more about apologizing for being caught rather than taking responsibility for his actions. This kid hasn’t earned the right to play in the NHL.