Mitch Miller was the Phoenix Coyotes top draft pick a few weeks ago. He was released a few days ago. As an eighth grader he bullied and assaulted an African American classmate who was mentally challenged. They tricked their classmate into eating candy that was placed in a urinal and physically assaulted him. Miller and another student admitted what they did in juvenile court and were ordered to do community service. They did community service. He has apologized to the family, completed cultural diversity and sensitivity classes, and volunteered with Little Miracles.
Nothing changed in regards to that situation from the time he was drafted until the time he was released. In addition, the University of North Dakota also rescinded their place for him on their team.
Before he was drafted Miller wrote to all the NHL clubs and admitted what he did and said he was sorry. The family of the victim said Miller never apologized to the family outside of the court mandated letter. Every club knew Miller’s story.
If the Coyotes and the University of North Dakota had no idea about his past I would question their research but I would understand why they changed their mind. This however, reeks of cancel culture. They received backlash and bailed. That is inexcusable. Before you wanted him as part of your team but now it is too hard? Talk about not the message you want to send to athletes. When the going gets tough…bail.
Miller was a jerk…as a kid. A lot of people were jerks as a kid. Many of those people grow up and become good people. I’m sure if we all looked back on things we did in high school or middle school we wish we would have made a better decision. It seems Miller paid the price that juvenile court gave him. Is that enough? Could he have done more? From reading it would appear Miller may not have gone above and beyond but he did pay the price that was mandated. Does he need to be punished for the rest of his life? I don’t think so.
Phoenix had the opportunity to take Miller and say we took you because we believe you have been redeemed and you can help others make better choices. They could have given Miller a list of expectations they have of him off the ice. Miller then would have had the choice of bettering himself and making a possible difference in his community or failing. It would have been on Miller. Miller still has the opportunity to make a positive difference. Maybe he will. If he does his story of redemption will likely fly under the radar because the spotlight is bright on professional athletes not every day people.
An opportunity was denied to Miller and more importantly an opportunity to show that second chances can be worthwhile. If cancel culture is just to mete out street justice and not actually improve society it may be time to cancel the cancel culture.