The Path Forward

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One Big Thing: The Path Forward

What’s Happening: The NHL has work to do when it comes to diversity and inclusion, writes CBS Sports Pete Blackburn. “The latest instance of that comes from the Arizona Coyotes, who just last month touted the fact their CEO had joined an NHL committee tasked with eradicating racism and discrimination. A few weeks later, the team used its first draft pick on Mitchell Miller.”

Miller, 18, was convicted of bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a developmentally disabled Black classmate in 2016, but the Coyotes still selected him with their first pick of the 2020 draft. Miller spent last season with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm and is committed to play at the University of North Dakota next season.

In a report by the Arizona Republic, Meyer-Crothers said Miller bullied him for years. Prior to the draft, Miller sent an apology letter to every NHL team, but he never personally apologized to Meyer-Crothers, according to the boy’s mother.

The Coyotes have been widely criticized since the Arizona Republic’s report came out Monday. For the Win’s Hemal Jhaveri, for instance, writes, “There may be a path forward for Miller and redemption, but it shouldn’t run through professional hockey. He has plenty of work to do and, in multiple instances, the league has shown that it is not equipped to be the place for this kind of learning.”

Sports Illustrated’s Ken Campbell says the Coyotes aren’t the only team that was interested in Miller. “There’s justifiably a lot of outrage out there with the publication of today’s story on Miller. But in speaking to scouts, this is a story that has been known in hockey circles for quite some time. And while the Coyotes are getting buried in an avalanche of bad press for this, the fact remains that there are many other people in the hockey world who were willing to allow Miller on their teams and in their organizations after the incident."

We don’t know Miller personally — we are simply reporting what news outlets are saying about the situation. For now, the Coyotes seem to be standing by their decision to draft him.

In a statement, Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said, “When we first learned of Mitchell’s story, it would have been easy for us to dismiss him — many teams did. Instead, we felt it was our responsibility to be a part of the solution in a real way — not just saying and doing the right things ourselves but ensuring that others are too.”

The Bigger Picture: The NHL will decide how to proceed without input from the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which cut ties with the league three weeks ago. The HDA made the decision after the NHL failed to respond for “many months” to an eight-point pledge the group asked the league to make, with requests like funding for grassroots initiatives.

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