Mitchell Miller named USHL 'Player of the Year' despite vile bullying saga

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It was revealed after the 2020 NHL Draft that Mitchell Miller was convicted in juvenile court of bullying and abusing a disabled classmate in 2016.
It was revealed after the 2020 NHL Draft that Mitchell Miller was convicted in juvenile court of bullying and abusing a disabled classmate in 2016. (Photo via USHL)

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.

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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