The Arizona Coyotes cut ties with Mitchell Miller, a high draft pick, after the Arizona Republic ran a story on Miller’s involvement in a bullying incident 4 years ago.
We talked about the story with Paola Boivin, of ASU’s Cronkite News Sports Bureau.
Boivin said that Miller was a “well-respected player” when he was drafted for the Coyotes. He was not their first round pick, but they knew they could work with the 18-year-old on his skills.
Miller’s bullying incident was “very severe”, according to Boivin, as it led to an assault charge. The victim, who is black, was 14 years old at the time, but had the mental ability of a 10-year-old. Miller was also 14 years old at the time.
The Coyotes knew about the incident upon drafting Miller, but Boivin said the Coyotes saw it as a “teachable moment” for him. The team planned to have Miller as a leader for future anti-bullying campaigns.
The team instead received backlash for drafting Miller since the incident included taunts and racial slurs directed at a developmentally disabled black child.
“I do truly believe that the Coyotes thought this could be something that…we can help this guy be a leader in, he seemed very remorseful,” Boivin said. “But again, it sounds a little bit like they didn’t do their homework because the details were ugly.”
Boivin commented that the Coyotes did not reach out to Miller’s family before the draft. The team has since then.
Some people reacted to Miller’s cut as an example of cancel culture. Other people thought that the team was overreacting. Boivin disagreed.
“We’re at a time in our society where there is very little tolerance for this, which is a great thing,” Boivin said. “But I think we’re in this transition in society right now where we have to overreact because we need things to change.”
Miller wrote an apology letter to the team, according to the Arizona Republic’s report on the incident. However, Miller did not write a letter to the family apologizing for his actions.