The Arizona Coyotes announced on Thursday afternoon that they have renounced the rights of their fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, forward Mitchell Miller, after it leaked that he bullied a black, mentally disabled teen when he was 16.
The Coyotes initially planned to give Miller a chance to show that he has changed but changed their mind.
Miller appeared to a juvenile court in Ohio after bullying the teenager, Isiah Meyer-Crothers, and even tricked him into licking a candy push-pop that he and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal and urinated on. Meyer-Crothers had to get tested for hepatitis, HIV, and STDs but tested negative.
“He pretended to be my friend and made me do things I didn’t want to do,” Meyer-Crothers said in a phone interview with AZCentral. “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 that Miller consistently called him a “brownie” and a “n*****” while hitting him while the two grew up together. He added that he was “sick to his stomach” when he learned the Coyotes drafted Miller 117th overall. “It hurt my heart to be honest,” Meyer-Crothers said. “It’s stupid that they (Coyotes) didn’t go back and look what happened in the past, but I can’t do anything about it.”
Miller, who lied to school officials about the incident when questioned, and the other teen then punched and pushed Meyer-Crothers.
Miller and the other boy admitted to the misdemeanors and were sentenced to 25 hours of community service and were ordered to write an apology through the court system to Meyer-Crothers, participate in counseling and pay court costs.
Miller, who attends the University of North Dakota, wrote letters to teams, apologizing to them.
“I am extremely sorry about the bullying incident that occurred in 2016 while I was in eighth grade. I was young, immature and feel terrible about my actions. At the time, I did not understand the gravity of my actions and how they can affect other people. I have issued an apology to the family for my behavior, completed cultural diversity and sensitivity training and volunteered within my community with organizations such as Little Miracles. Over the past four years, I have had a lot of time to reflect and grow and I am very grateful to the Arizona Coyotes for taking a chance on me. I promise not to let them down. Moving forward, I want to be a leader for this cause and help end bullying and racism.”
New Coyotes’ GM Bill Armstrong was not allowed to help the team at the NHL Draft as a condition from the St. Louis Blues by allowing him to go to Arizona.
Coyotes draft woes:
2020 1st: Traded to NJ for Hall (left as UFA)
2020 2nd: Forfeited for breaking combine rules
2020 3rd: Traded to COL for Soderberg
2020 4th: Renounced rights to pick
2021 1st: Forfeited for breaking combine rules
2021 3rd: Traded to NJ for Hall
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) October 29, 2020
“We have decided to renounce the rights to Mitchell Miller, effective immediately,” said Coyotes’ President & CEO Xavier Gutierrez said in a press release. “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. We are building a model franchise on and off the ice and will do the right thing for Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family, our fans and our partners. Mr. Miller is now a free agent and can pursue his dream of becoming an NHL player elsewhere.”
“I fully support our decision to renounce Mitchell Miller’s draft rights,” said Armstrong. “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.”
The Coyotes added in their release that “The Coyotes’ top priority is to be a leader on diversity, inclusion and equity and the club will continue to work with numerous local organizations including Best Buddies, One Step Beyond and the American Special Hockey Association to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition, the Coyotes and the Arizona Coyotes Foundation will look to partner with local non-profit organizations fighting bullying and racism.
Crothers’ mother released a letter on Twitter earlier this week.
This is really all that matters. pic.twitter.com/MTv7tSyc70
— Will Scouch (@Scouching) October 27, 2020
By Harrison Brown