Arizona Shouldn’t Have Drafted Mitchell Miller

General view of Gila River Arena (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
General view of Gila River Arena (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

When the Arizona Coyotes selected Mitchell Miller with the 111th pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, it seemed like a solid pick to someone like me who was unaware of his character.

After all, on the ice Miller is a talented two-way defenseman,  but, off the ice, he’s a bully to put it lightly.

On Oct. 26, 2020, an article released by azcentral helped bring to light what Mitchell Miller had done to a classmate named Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. Isaiah has developmental disabilities and personally I hate having to point that out, but it’s important for context. Miller targeting a vulnerable individual shows a level of cowardice that must be acknowledged.

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Miller went on to call Isaiah racist slurs but Miller’s actions weren’t exclusively verbal, he physically assaulted Isaiah as well. Isaiah’s mother mentioned video of Miller “smashing Isaiah’s head against a brick wall.” There is more that Miller admitted to doing, but hopefully the picture of Miller’s character is clear. The worst part is other than a court mandated apology, Miller has never personally apologized to Isaiah for what he did.

Knowing all of that, why then would any NHL franchise draft Miller? Miller reportedly sent out letters of apology for the incident to all thirty-one NHL teams. While that allegedly dropped him from half of the NHL’s draft boards, there was still interest because of Miller’s on-ice talent.

Skip ahead to the 111th pick in the draft, and the Arizona Coyotes jumped at the opportunity to take Miller. Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez said in a statement that the Arizona Coyotes felt it was our responsibility to be a part of the solution in a real way.”

In theory it does make sense to give a person another chance if they’ve shown they’re willing to change. The best way to stop racism is to change minds after all. Miller did give the Coyotes a copy of the court mandated apology, and it is in fact possible that Arizona genuinely believed it was a legitimate apology.

Now that the theory is on the table, it’s safe to say it’s unlikely. Isaiah’s mother let the organization know that Miller had never apologized, as well as claimed that they never received the apology letter.  With more truth about the situation coming out, Arizona made the right call on October 29th when they renounced their rights to Mitchell Miller.

The biggest question here is why did Arizona draft Mitchell Miller if they knew about the bullying?

The obvious answer was because they wanted to be a part of the solution, but that’s a weak justification for drafting a person that not only physically assaulted another person, but also made racist remarks towards them. Coming from an organization that sees itself as supporting inclusion, the very act of drafting Miller regardless of his regret or lack thereof is a hypocritical move.

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At the end of the day the Arizona Coyotes shouldn’t have drafted Mitchell Miller.