Last week was hot with news as most of it came from the desert. The Arizona Coyotes dominated the headlines when they renounced their rights to a draft pick after ugly details from his past surfaced. The organization also made a minor move that might actually benefit the team, too.
As always, I wrote about one of my favorite signings and a scorching hot jersey reveal. You won’t want to miss this week’s set of takes.
1. Coyotes Renounce the Rights to Draft Pick Mitchell Miller
The big news of last week surrounded the Arizona Coyotes. The team announced that they had renounced the rights to 2020 fourth-round pick, Mitchell Miller. Miller is a defenseman committed to play at the University of North Dakota next season.
The Coyotes renounced Miller after the Arizona Republic published a story about Miller and his history of bullying a classmate named Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, who is black and has developmental disabilities when the two were in middle school.
The team was aware of Miller’s history with bullying but drafted Miller anyway. According to this article on ESPN.com, the Coyotes wanted to help Miller and set him on the right path.
The Coyotes initially stood by the pick, with president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez saying the team felt a responsibility to [be] “part of the solution” for Miller.
“We believe that we are in the best position to guide Mitchell into becoming a leader for this cause and preventing bullying and racism now and in the future,” he said.
After the piece in the Republic provided additional details, Arizona made the decision to renounce Miller’s rights.
First, bullying is a serious issue that is almost never handled correctly in schools. I’m happy to see that NHL Teams are taking it seriously, even if it’s because they had to in order to protect their public image. That shows that people do care.
Second, I almost feel like labeling this situation as one of “bullying” is underselling Miller’s actions. When many people think of bullying, they might think of someone calling someone names or making fun of their clothes. What Miller did was far worse.
Miller physically and verbally assaulted Meyer-Crothers. He called him racial slurs, physically assaulted him, and according to the ESPN.com article,
…physically assaulted him and at one point tricked him “into licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal,” according a police report.
Miller was guilty on counts of assault and was suspended from school! This wasn’t just a simple case of bullying. Miller was CHARGED with crimes for what he did. Miller also never apologized to Meyer-Crothers for his actions, yet apologized to all 31 teams so it would look like he showed remorse.
This is not someone who deserves the privilege to play in the NHL. I’m glad the Coyotes faced public pressure and cut bait with him. It is disappointing that they drafted him in the first place. But, hopefully, this incident shows that this behavior is not acceptable ever in any capacity. And if you bully someone so mercilessly you’re found guilty of a crime, you will not be allowed to play in the NHL.
For youth programs and players, I hope they learn from this situation and realize that how you treat people outside of hockey can affect your future. It also serves as a lesson to the NHL. If they want to see their “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign succeeds, forcing bullies out of the sport at the youth level is a great start.
2. Red Wings Ink Bertuzzi to One-Year Deal
Detroit Red Wings’ forward Tyler Bertuzzi will return to the Wings next year on a one-year deal with a $3.5 million cap hit. The money was decided in arbitration as the two sides could not reach a deal before then. The 25-year-old will be an RFA next summer so there is little risk for the Wings here.
Bertuzzi has been one of the few pleasant surprises for the Wings over the last two seasons amidst the misery that is hockey in Detroit. He’s scored 21 goals each of the last two years and has added 26 and 27 assists each season respectively. He was also Detroit’s lone All-Star representative last season.
This deal was more of a formality than anything. It’s the next deal that really matters. Bertuzzi will be an RFA again next summer and the Wings will obviously want to retain him. At 26-years-old and with no more than three quality seasons under his belt, I’d expect Bertuzzi to opt for a long term deal instead of attempting to double-dip like Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner.
I’m disappointed that the two parties couldn’t agree on an extension,. I like Bertuzzi a lot and I was hoping to see him locked up for the next few seasons. It’s scary that they had to agree to this contract via arbitration. It’s common knowledge that arbitration is not an ideal process for players as they have to listen to their team say not great things about them.
Thankfully, it doesn’t seem as Bertuzzi is upset, at least he hasn’t shown it. Hopefully, he plays well this year and forces Detroit to look him up long-term. That’s what I’d like to see, but for a fair price.
3. Shane Doan Returning to Phoenix?
With everything that happened in Arizona last week, I think Coyotes fans could use a little good news. Last week, Sportsnet reported that former captain and fan-favorite, Shane Doan, may be returning to the desert. The news was reported by Elliotte Friedman.
There aren’t any other details. But, I’d assume if Doan did return, he would serve as a Special Assistant to the General Manager. Clubs frequently give this role to former players that they want to stick around the organization. It’s usually more of a PR role more than anything. Special Assistants usually help with media, mentor young players, and act almost as an ambassador to the team. Kris Draper served as one with the Red Wings before he took a more advanced role in scouting.
Just having Doan back would be a great look for Coyotes. He would provide a lot of guidance for a young team and would put a smile on fans’ faces if he returned. Doan spent his entire career with the franchise, including his rookie season when the franchise was in Winnipeg. He served as captain for 13 seasons and is the franchise leader in almost every major statistical category.
4. Trevor Daley Calls it a Career
Trevor Daley announced his retirement last week. He will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he won two Stanley Cups as a player and will join their front office. Daley finished up a three-year stint with the Red Wings this past season and the team was not going to re-sign him.
Daley spent 11 years of his 16-year career with the Dallas Stars. He played in 756 games with them. He then played a half-season with the Blackhawks before getting traded to the Penguins. He won a Stanley Cup that season and one more the next year. He then signed with Detroit where he finished his career.
Overall, Daley was a solid defenseman. He played in over 1,000 games scoring 89 goals and adding 220 assists. He’ll be remembered primarily for the time he spent in Dallas and for the cups he won with Pittsburgh. I’ve also heard he’s a tremendous teammate and great guy. I wish him luck with the Penguins and salute him as he calls it a career.
5. Stars Shine Bright With New Unis
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Perhaps my favorite news that came out of last week is these new Stars’ jerseys. I think I’m in love. I can’t tell if they’re great or if they’re so bad they’re good. Either way, I’m very tempted to buy one. If Dallas had only worn these they probably would have beat Tampa and won the cup.
I cannot wait to see the contrast between the neon green mixed with black against the ice. People are either going to love them or hate them. There will be no in-between. As of right now, I’m leaning towards the love end. All of the old guard probably won’t like them, but, props to the Stars’ organization for taking a risk and blessing us with this masterpiece of a jersey. ■