Last week former Arizona Coyotes prospect and University of North Dakota defenceman Mitchell Miller was exposed to the wider hockey world as a racist, abusive person who should have never been drafted. The Coyotes had never talked to the victim, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, and he had not been reached out to at all until the Arizona Republic reached out to him and his family to get their side of the story and tell it to the world.
There are ways to handle situations like this and then there is what happened. If Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and his family had been interviewed separately and without telling Miller and his team that they were doing so and the Meyer-Crothers family was able to tell the NHL that Miller had attempted to fix the irreparable harm he had caused, that would have been one thing. Except he never even apologized let alone take further steps to address his behaviour. That alone should have made him undraftable in the eyes of every team.
The other issue, and this is nitpicky, is Miller hid behind the fact that he was 14 at the time. I have taken issue with people around 30 using some derogatory terms because they were not taught that was wrong in school. But what Miller did was explicitly taught against. By 14 kids know not to call anyone the n-word. As a general rule through my lived experiences, 14 year olds do not react to swearing, but do react to the n-word quite strongly.
14 years old is young enough to still need adults around to guide you, but old enough to know right from wrong. It is young enough to learn from your mistakes, but old enough to not make as many. What Miller did was not a mistake or a learning experience or bullying. It was an intentional act abuse against a victim who only wanted friends.
Before you ask why Meyer-Crothers would try to be friends with his abusers understand this: kids often just want to fit in and my guess is Miller and his fellow abuser were two of the most powerful kids in school making Meyer-Crothers calculation that being friends with them would be the greatest form of protection he could have as well as making him cool. In short, please go watch Mean Girls to understand how teenagers and social rankings work.
Isaiah Meyer-Crothers should have been interviewed by any NHL team considering drafting Miller. He deserved to not only tells teams what Miller did to him, but if he even apologized let alone tried to make right. Meyer-Crothers never got that chance to speak his truth. The Arizona Republic gave him and his family that chance and after their side was released, Miller became toxic to touch thanks to public opinion. Funny how that works.