The Arizona Coyotes have cut ties with their first-round draft pick, Mitchell Miller, after reports of racist and abusive behavior have surfaced. On October 26, the Arizona Republic put together an extensive report regarding Miller's treatment of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black student with developmental disabilities in Sylvania, Ohio.
"In junior high, I got beat up by him. Everyone thinks he's so cool that he gets to go to the NHL, but I don't see how someone can be cool when you pick on someone and bully someone your entire life," Meyer-Crothers said.
Four years before being drafted into the National Hockey League, Miller stood in juvenile court and admitted to assaulting and bullying his former classmate. In addition to physically assaulting his Black classmate, he used racial slurs when speaking to him and tricked him "into licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal."
Ultimately, a 2016 report from the Toronto Blade stated that Miller and another student were found delinquent on counts of assault and violation the Ohio Safe Schools Act. Miller was later suspended from Sylvania Schools. Meyer-Crothers said that the other student offered an apology, but Miller never did.
Prior to drafting the Ohio native, the Arizona Coyotes were aware of the 2016 juvenile case involving Miller. However, the franchise claimed that they felt they could help Miller moving forward.
"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," Arizona Coyotes President Xavier Gutierrez said.
After the Arizona Republic report surfaced, the franchise stepped back from their first-round selection and have elected to renounce their rights to Miller's services. However, Miller has also committed to play collegiate hockey with North Dakota. Despite the Arizona Coyotes' decision, the school has said that the freshman will remain a member of their hockey team.
"We were aware of an unfortunate incident that occurred with Mitchell in eighth grade. We made a decision that our program could provide him the necessary infrastructure and culture to hone not only his hockey abilities but most importantly, assist him in his continuing growth as a human being which will last him the remainder of his life," North Dakota coach Brad Berry said.
The team has yet to play any games this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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