Former Arizona Coyotes draft pick Mitchell Miller, who had his rights renounced by the NHL club after it was revealed he abused and bullied a disabled classmate in 2016, has won the USHL’s Player of the Year.
The now-20-year-old Miller, who also had his scholarship to North Dakota reneged and sat out an entire season after news of his gruesome past actions came to light in 2020, returned to the top-tier U.S. junior league for the 2021-22 campaign.
Amongst the repugnant behaviour carried out by Miller included repeatedly referring to classmate Isaiah Meyer-Crothers — who is a person of colour and disabled — with the N-word, as well as forcing him to lick a lollipop that had been previously wiped against a bathroom urinal. As a result, Meyer-Crothers had to undergo tests for HIV, hepatitis, and various other sexually transmitted diseases.
Shortly after the 2020 NHL Draft, where Miller was selected by Arizona in the fourth round, it was reported by Craig Harris and Jose M. Romero of the Arizona Republic that Miller and another teen "admitted in juvenile court to bullying an African American classmate with developmental disabilities” in 2016.
“He pretended to be my friend and made me do things I didn't want to do,” Meyer-Crothers said to the Republic last summer. “In junior high, I got beat up by him. … Everyone thinks he's so cool that he gets to go to the NHL, but I don't see how someone can be cool when you pick on someone and bully someone your entire life.”
Isaiah's mother Joni, who claims Miller's bullying and abuse of her son Isaiah actually began all the way back in second grade, told The Athletic in August of 2021 that Isaiah and the family had still not received any kind of formal apology from the former Coyotes pick, aside from the the court-ordered one Miller was essentially forced to write after his conviction in 2016.
The decision to name Miller as the USHL's Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year in 2021-22 — an award voted on by the league’s general managers — has been widely scorned, with users from across Twitter and other platforms expressing their disappointment with the league for the move, sharing concern that it perpetuates the sport's toxicity and platforms the convicted bully.
Yes, this is the same Mitchell Miller who saw the Arizona Coyotes rescind his pick at the NHL draft. Only a matter of time before we see an NHL team sign this player. No transgression is too great to overlook in the name of hockey. https://t.co/0xTtgGB9IJ
— Ian Kennedy (@IanKennedyCK) May 31, 2022
Beating a dead horse, but hockey has such a culture problem.
Be an unapologetic racist and bully like Mitchell miller? USHL poty
Be a repeat abuser like evander kane? You’ll be championed in the nhl playoffs
Spread a woman’s nudes unsolicited and get convicted? 1st round pick https://t.co/uzNoM9DyQW
— Bryan (@Metalpanthers) May 31, 2022
Tri-Citys decision to re-sign Mitchell Miller was one I absolutely did not stand by
But now the USHL’s choice as a collective to award him with MVP and D of the Year… just downright despicable
Needlessly projecting an undeserving player and an undeserving person. Sad. Bad look
— Gabe Foley (@NHLFoley) May 31, 2022
Last time I criticized the Storm for hyping up a racist bully who should have absolutely nothing to do with this sport, this was their reaction.
Today, the USHL is proudly parading Mitchell Miller as their Player of the Year.
Who is hockey really for? pic.twitter.com/BOW7IYscTD
— Spence (@Kadri4Kerfoot) May 31, 2022
On a less aggressive note, hockey culture once again proves that your skill and talent is more important than anything else. The trauma and bullying that Isaiah Meyer-Crothers experienced means nothing to the USHL, and if Mitchell Miller knew about the award, to him either. His
— charlie 🤙 (@strangecharlie_) May 31, 2022
The announcement is just one part of a laundry list of toxic behaviours surrounding the sport that has reared its head in the last year. Just recently, Hockey Canada and the CHL settled a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault involving Canadian World Junior players.
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