Mitchell Miller Receives Career-Long NHL Death Sentence For Bullying Incident At Age 14 While Deshaun Watson Nears NFL Return

Ice hockey player Mitchell Miller, 20, bullied a developmentally disabled classmate in 2016. At 14, Miller and a friend tricked Isaiah Meyer-Crothers into eating a piece of candy that the other wiped in a bathroom urinal. Students who witnessed the incident told the Arizona Republic that Miller used to call Meyer-Crothers, an African American, the N-word.

Miller later admitted to bullying Meyer-Crothers. An Ohio juvenile court sentenced Miller to community service that year.

In 2020, the Arizona Coyotes drafted Miller as the team's first pick in the NHL Draft (fourth round, pick 111). The Coyotes learned of the bullying incident shortly after the original report in the Republic, and promptly renounced Miller's draft rights.

Last Friday, the Boston Bruins signed Miller to an entry-level contract. Outrage ensued. The team then rescinded its contract with him Sunday, two days later.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters over the weekend that the NHL was unaware the team was signing Miller. Bettman stressed that Miller was ineligible to play in his league.

“He’s not coming into the NHL. He’s not eligible at this point to come into the NHL. I can’t tell you that he’ll ever be eligible to come into the NHL,” said Bettman speaking at the NHL Global Series in Finland.

“So, the answer is they were free to sign him to play somewhere else, that’s another league’s issue, but nobody should think at this point he is or may ever be NHL eligible. And the Bruins understand that now,” Bettman said.

Bruins players also expressed concern about the signing of Miller. By Sunday night the Boston Bruins organization took the same route nearly all businesses take in this era, they caved. "Based on new information, we believe it is the best decision at this time to rescind the opportunity for Mitchell Miller to represent the Boston Bruins," they said in a statement.

It's unclear what new information the Bruins uncovered. But based on an interview with The Athletic, it appears talking to Meyer-Crothers' still upset parents was the "new information."

Mitchell Miller's actions at the age of 14 were reprehensible. Bullying a developmentally challenged child with racial slurs is horrific. Combating childhood bullying ought to be a leading societal focus. Thereby Miller deserved to face consequences, which a court ruled in the direction of community service.

But what's happening to Miller, six years later, is a push to disqualify him from all future employment. You heard Bettman: Miller's ban could be everlasting. The NHL says his atrocious decision as a kid, one that didn't require jail time, warrants a career-long sentence.

This raises a larger question about the blacklisting of fired and "canceled" subjects. How long must one sit out of the workforce for personal misconduct?

Do these bad but not criminal actors get a second chance? Or is their ostracism from the corporate sphere lifelong?

Miller's ban from the NHL is excessive. It's also inconsistent with how sports leagues govern. Locker rooms in the NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA are filled with athletes with dark pasts-- many of whom committed violent crimes.

Nearly 30 women have accused Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct. Watson preyed on women as an adult. Yet he returns to the NFL next month after serving an 11-game suspension.

Watson gets to return as part of a $230-million dollar contract. Miller does not. Miller does not get an opportunity to redeem himself. His behavior at 14 years old cost him his career as an adult.

Consider the precedent that sets. Should past bullying become the next non-starter, this response would not end with Miller. Unfortunately, bullying is and was extensive during adolescent years. Suffice it to say Miller is not the only athlete or coach or even employee who previously bullied a peer or used a racial slur.

Fourteen-year-old Mitchell Miller sounds like a punk kid. A bully. A juvenile delinquent. Someone whose parents didn't teach him how to conduct himself.

Mitchell Miller also paid his debt to society. He apologized. And his actions already cost him two jobs in professional hockey. He faces a life sentence in the NHL and perhaps elsewhere.

That's an exorbitant response to the misbehavior of a 14-year-old boy.

Written by
Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics.. Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.