Sting have no plans to sign controversial prospect Miller

One Russian website Monday linked the Ohio native to a team in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. “I’m sure he’s focusing on himself and …

If Mitchell Miller plays hockey this season, it won’t be for the Sarnia Sting.

The Sting hold the Ontario Hockey League rights to the controversial young defenceman whose NHL draft rights were renounced last week by the Arizona Coyotes, but general manager Dylan Seca has no plans to sign him.

The Coyotes cut ties with Miller, 18, after drafting him in the fourth round last month because he has admitted to bullying a Black, developmentally disabled classmate.

“We are not actively inquiring about his status,” Seca said. “I think we’re going to let Mitch and his family and his agent decide on their own what the best path for his player (and) hockey development is. But I think it’s safe to say at this point it’s not something that’s on our radar.”

Miller is looking for a new team because the University of North Dakota has said he’s no longer on their squad. The freshman can remain a student at North Dakota.

Seca declined to comment on whether Miller’s family or agent has reached out to the Sting.

One Russian website Monday linked the Ohio native to a team in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia.

“I’m sure he’s focusing on himself and what he needs to do for himself,” Seca said. “It’s not something that we’re considering or pursuing.”

Seca said the Sting are concerned for everyone involved. That includes not only victim Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and his family but also Miller.

The Arizona Republic has reported Miller and another classmate admitted in juvenile court in 2016 to bullying Meyer-Crothers when all lived in suburban Toledo.

Meyer-Crothers said Miller tormented him for years with racial slurs. He said Miller and the other classmate tricked him into licking candy they’d wiped in a bathroom urinal and then assaulted him.

Miller reportedly sent a pre-draft letter to all 31 NHL teams apologizing for his behavior, but Meyer-Crothers’s mother told the Republic that Miller never apologized to her son except for a court-ordered letter.

Last season, Miller had 33 points in 44 games for the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League.

“Someone had asked me, are we going to renounce his rights?” Seca said. “At this point, I don’t think it makes any sense to make any decision one way or the other. There definitely are two sides to every story. We’re very cautious of how this has impacted that (Meyer-Crothers) family and that particular individual, and what’s Mitch’s role in it and how is he? How’s his health?”

The Sting picked Miller in the fourth round of the 2017 OHL draft. He never signed with or reported to the team.

The Sting knew there was an “ongoing situation” with Miller when they drafted him, Seca said.

“We didn’t know exactly what it was,” he said. “But we shouldn’t have, either, because it was an ongoing court issue at that point. And we do a lot of background checks. You obviously try your best to dig up as much as you can. But you’re also only able to have available to you information that people are willing to share. …

“You’re dealing with minors. These are 15-year-old boys. A police officer can’t divulge or a guidance counsellor can’t divulge because it’s confidential information.”

The team has to sift through rumours and stories to determine what’s true about a player and whether there’s room for him to mature, he said.

“We also spend a lot of time and effort (looking) into character and making sure we find the right people that represent the community and our team,” Seca said. “But sometimes you’re unable to learn all the facts.”