The Arizona Coyotes would like to think that renouncing the rights to their fourth-round pick Mitchell Miller, after it became public that four years ago he had been convicted of bullying a developmentally challenged Black classmate and calling him racial slurs — to a disgusting degree — shines them in a positive light. In reality, it only makes them look worse.
Just like we said when the story came to light, releasing Miller now either makes it seem like the Coyotes didn’t do their homework, or they did and didn’t care but were caught off-guard by the response when two journalists from the Arizona Republic, Craig Harris and Jose M. Romero, did theirs, and exposed Miller’s disgusting past.
You be the judge as here’s Thursday’s statement from Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez:
“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. We have learned more about the entire matter, and more importantly, the impact it has had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. What we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights. On behalf of the Arizona Coyotes ownership and our entire organization, I would like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family.”
It may seem bewildering how a major league sports team could be caught cold by something like Miller’s history going public, but if you are surprised you don’t know just how ignorant hockey teams can be. Just wait until another team looks to sign Miller down the road once it senses enough time has passed that the questions posed to them won’t be as indefensible to answer (even though they still will be).
The Coyotes aren’t having an attack of conscience here. While it will be framed that way, they’re merely trying to save face during a controversy they stupidly never anticipated and can’t get out of. Miller’s past isn’t something they ever thought much about — nor did Miller, apparently, as reportedly he’s yet to even apologize to the classmate he bullied — and it’s something that hockey in general wouldn’t think much about while scouting a player. They just finally figured out there was no way to polish this turd, and are hoping the hockey press will give them a pass after renouncing Miller’s rights, and possibly applaud them for parting ways.
Given how the hockey press works, they’re absolutely right to think so.