In a move so shocking it literally left half of the league speechless, the Arizona Coyotes strike again. After waiting 110 picks to finally make their first selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Coyotes decided to take a player that wasn’t even on the majority of team’s draft boards. The guys discussed this on our latest edition of the Podcast. While their analysis focused on the player, I want to change the conversation here and discuss the team instead. It what can only be considered the ultimate fail, this selection is a microcosm of the Coyotes inability to do anything right over the last calendar year.
Mitchell Miller’s name and history has been picked apart. He bullied and tormented a fellow classmate for multiple years, inflicting physical, mental and emotional pain, including using racial slurs against the victim. I will refrain from commenting on the player in question or the victim because I think they both got more national attention than they probably expected. This however, is a complete indictment on the Arizona Coyotes, an organization who, if it were not for the fact they were a hockey team in the desert, would have likely been called out much earlier. Which is not exclusively reserved for the selection of Mitchell Miller as you will see.
To properly dissect the Coyotes year of ineptitude, we should probably start back with Taylor Hall. Then General Manager (GM) John Chayka made a blockbuster deal, sending the Devils a 2020 First Round Pick and a 2021 Third Round Pick (was conditional) along with a couple prospects to land Hall. This is relevant because of the ugly split between the Coyotes and Chayka, who left the team to go work for, you guessed it, the New Jersey Devils ownership group. By the way, Hall played all of 35 games with the Coyotes.
To make matter worse, the team had been caught conducting illegal pre-draft testing of more than 20 potential prospects in the 2020 draft under Chayka. While this typically carries a $250K penalty per case, the league instead elected to force the team for forfeit their 2020 Second Round pick (since they traded away their First rounder) and a 2021 First Round pick. If you are keeping track at home the Coyotes are now without 2 x Firsts, a Second and a Third. This is probably a good time to slide in the fact they also traded away their 2020 Third Round pick for Carl Soderberg in what is the only normal hockey move of this entire article. The team is also completely up against the Cap making signings near impossible, but they do have some Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) help on the horizon, so they have one positive to go on here.
Now for the part that confuses me the most. In what was a historic moment in the NHL community, the Coyotes hired Xavier Gutierrez as the first ever Latino President & CEO in the league. He also joined the recently formed Hockey Diversity Alliance as a member of the Executive Inclusion Council. In the wake of the Social Justice movements going on around North America, including in the NHL Bubble during the Return to Play, the Coyotes appeared to be committed to making meaningful change. Thennnnnn they blew it.
In one swift move, the Coyotes managed to unravel all of the progress they had made since the hiring of Gutierrez. Even after all the illegal prospect testing, after waiting 110 picks to do the one job they had, they still managed to select the one player that was a mistake. The Blue Jackets selected an over-ager who was sleeping with their First Round Pick and it doesn’t even come close to the stupidity of this pick. Claiming that they were not fully aware of the situation is dumb founding; how?! Honestly, how? Even Draft blogs knew to remove him from their draft boards but a NHL franchise didn’t? It is to the point that even Elite Prospects put a Stop Bullying Campaign logo on Miller’s player profile page. How were the Coyotes the last to know?
The pick itself is a massive case of negligence but I also want to point out the Coyotes error here from purely a hockey standpoint. How did they decide to pick a player in the Fourth round when reports suggest as high as 75% of teams didn’t even have him on their draft boards?! You don’t need to be in tune with the hockey world to know that people talk, and if this fact surprised the Coyotes, add it to their list of stupidity. From a draft capital standpoint this is an absolute fail of epic proportions. But the real issue is that this failure pails in comparison to the much larger societal failure that the Coyotes committed.
I love how quickly the HDA was to call out the Coyotes organization. They failed to properly investigate the situations despite having ample time to do so. As far as I am concerned claiming ignorance is not an acceptable response. HE SENT YOU A LETTER! He confessed to what he did, and the Coyotes still did zero secondary research, yet they were fully prepared to offer him a second chance? A little due diligence goes a long way….
Check out what Peeze, Terry and Eagle’s perspective on the matter! They also discuss World Series Champs, the LA Dodgers and sit down with Andy McNamara to discuss the NFL! Don’t forget to take advantage of our Promo Codes by visiting MikesBBQrubMTL.com with Promo Code HotSauce10 to get 10% orders on all individual bottles as well as ChettysHotSauce.ca and use HotSauce25 to get $25 off the entire site