The Hockey Diversity Alliance is challenging the NHL and Arizona Coyotes to sign its pledge after the Coyotes recently drafted Mitchell Miller, who was convicted of assaulting a Black teen with disabilities four years ago.
"The Coyotes' drafting of Mitchell Miller - who was convicted of bullying a developmentally disabled, Black classmate, and according to the victim's family has not personally apologized - shows that 'zero tolerance' of racism can't be taken for granted in the NHL. The NHL and the Coyotes should sign the HDA pledge and start practicing what they preach," the HDA said Wednesday.
The alliance's statement referenced item No. 6 of the HDA's pledge, which asks the NHL to agree not to "support, partner with, or accept support from any organization that has engaged in, promoted, or failed to appropriately respond to racist conduct in their organization of any kind (including, without limitation, the proliferation of hate speech, discrimination in the provision of goods, services and facilities, and other areas such as employment)."
Isaiah Meyer-Crothers said Miller bullied him for years physically, and repeatedly called him the N-word. In 2016, Miller and another boy were charged with assault and violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act after they were accused of making Crothers eat a candy that had been rubbed in a urinal.
"It hurt my heart, to be honest," Crothers said of Mitchell being drafted, according to Craig Harris and Jose M. Romero of the Arizona Republic. "It's stupid that they (Coyotes) didn't go back and look what happened in the past, but I can't do anything about it."
Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said the club drafted Mitchell because Arizona "felt it was our responsibility to be a part of the solution in a real way." Gutierrez was named to the NHL's Executive Inclusion Council last month.
The HDA cut ties with the NHL earlier this month, calling the league's anti-racism measures "performative public relations efforts."