NHL Coyotes’ reverse course severed ties with draft pick that bullied black schoolmate

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The Arizona Coyotes relinquished Mitchell Miller’s rights Thursday just days after defending their decision to select him in the fourth round of the NHL Draft.Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said the team came to fruition after learning more about Miller’s actions.

In 2016 Miller, then 14, and another teenager were charged with assault for bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a black classmate with a developmental disability in 2016.

“We learned more about the whole issue and, more importantly, the impact he had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. What we have learned does not match the core values ​​and vision of our organization and leads to our decision to quit. our project rights, ”Gutierrez said in a statement.

Meyer-Crothers said Miller used to hit him and also called him “brownie” and “N-word” as the two grew up together in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio.

Arizona knew about Miller’s story when they selected the 18-year-old defenseman in the fourth round of the NHL Draft on Oct. 7. Miller had sent every team a letter ahead of the draft in which he acknowledged his 2016 conviction when he was 14 and apologized for his actions, according to Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong.

In a statement Thursday, Armstrong said he supported the decision. Armstrong was hired as general manager in September and did not work in the draft due to a deal with his former team, the St. Louis Blues.

“It was a unique situation for me not to be able to make this year’s draft and we were going through a transition with our scouting department,” Armstrong said. “Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we have to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team. I want to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family for all they have been dealing with lately. month. I wish them the best for the future. ”

On Wednesday night, the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA), an advocacy group led by San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu, posted a social media post Wednesday night inviting the Coyotes and the league to “start training”. what they preach. ”

Formed in June, the HDA had hoped that the NHL would join in its mission “to eradicate systemic racism and intolerance in hockey.”

However, the group decided to part ways with the NHL in early October, saying the league was not committed to tackling racial inequality.

WATCH | Jamie Strashin of CBC Sports discusses the split between HDA and NHL:

The Hockey Diversity Alliance has announced it will separate from the NHL after months of negotiations. The black NHL player-led initiative said it hasn’t seen enough action from the league, only successful public relations efforts. 2:03

The HDA highlighted point 6 of its pledge on Wednesday, which read in part: “We will not endorse, associate with, or accept support from any organization that has engaged, promoted or failed to respond. appropriately to racist behavior in his organization of any kind. ”

In September, the NHL launched a series of initiatives, including mandatory training for players, aimed at tackling racial inequalities and promoting inclusion.

But the HDA said it felt a lack of commitment from the NHL in implementing the plan.

“We have waited many months for a response to the commonsense pledge we offered by the HDA, and it is clear that the NHL is not ready to make measurable commitments to end systemic racism in hockey.” , the HDA said in the statement.

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