Controversy and the sports world have gone hand in hand more recently than before (say past 10 years as opposed to the 10 years before). At least in my lifetime, it seems like that. The NHL’s Boston Bruins are the latest team to add to that. With their recent signing of a USHL Defenseman, Mitchell Miller.
Throughout his schooling years, Miller was a bully plain and simple. One of the worst kinds of bullies. You might be thinking, ‘how does a former school bully become controversy for the NHL/the Bruins?’ Well, Miller was as stated before, the worst kind of bully. The type that ended up in juvenile detention as a result of it.
Mitchell Miller’s Indiscretions
In 2016, Miller and a classmate were convicted for the verbal bullying/physical abuse of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. A black, developmentally disabled classmate. One of the main incidents, involved Miller rolling a push-pop in a school urinal and essentially forcing Isaiah to put it in his mouth. Which in turn led to Isaiah having to take an STD test after the incident.
Add to that years (since second grade) of verbal abuse. With the N-word being thrown at Meyer-Crothers from Miller on multiple occassions. Along with physical abuse, that was caught on school security cameras, a time or two. And you have someone (Miller) who never learned from their mistakes. And he seemingly never cared to try to learn from them.
Miller repeatedly lied to school administration about incident after incident with him bullying Isaiah, which made it worse for him in the end. That right there shows that you can’t trust his word. So why would the Bruins trust that he’s a changed man, and is actually apologetic? It’s beyond me.
The Coyotes Are To Blame As Well
While the Bruins have Miller in their organization now, they weren’t the first team to give him a shot. The Arizona Coyotes drafted Miller in the 4th round of the 2020 draft. This was after teams had already taken him off their draft boards prior to the 2020 draft. The Coyotes were one of those teams. But then their front office got overhauled only a couple months before the draft, and their draft board changed.
Their fourth round pick, was the teams first pick in that draft. If he was such an afterthought, why did they use their first pick on him? Instead of letting him fall to the 7th round. Or better yet, let him fall undrafted which is what they, and all teams should have done.
Soon after drafting him, they renounced their rights to him. Which is how he got to be in the USHL. But unless you follow hockey religiously (I don’t), you don’t know what the USHL really is. At least it doesn’t have the national reach that the NHL does.
Why Miller Is An Ableist
Ableist Culture is real in this world. And Miller is just the latest ableist to be given a national stage. Can I say for sure that Miller bullied Meyer-Crothers mainly because he was developmentally disabled? No. But what I can say is that bullies go after people they see as “easy” targets. So, in my opinion, Miller went after Meyer-Crothers because he knew he couldn’t fight back/was easier to convince to do things than his other classmates. Which, in turn, makes him ableist. If you don’t believe that he is, here is the actual definition of ableism: “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities”
If you don’t see what Miller did to Meyer-Crothers over at least 10 years (second grade through high school), as discrimination against a disabled individual. Then you need to rethink your morals. As someone who is a part of a community that deals with ableism all the time (I’m on the autism spectrum). I just don’t see how the NHL can allow someone like this to be a part of their national notoriety. It would be one thing if he learned from any of it, but he’s shown he hasn’t.
Miller apologized to NHL teams that were scouting him, before he apologized in any way, shape, or form to Meyer-Crothers. The NHL teams that received the letter had a hard time believing he was actually sorry. He never reached out to Isaiah, until the Bruins started talking about signing him. Even then, it was only through a lackluster DM on Instagram and not a phone call or face-to-face. Here is a snippet of his lackluster apology in Bruins statement made this past Friday:
“I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago.”
He tried wording it in a way that made him seem like a changed individual. I don’t buy it. ‘Acted very immaturely’. Acting immaturely is making potty jokes, and other things like that. Not physically abusing a developmentally disabled person, and being racist at the same time by using the N-word and telling them to “go pick cotton”.
The Bruins Care More About The Goals
Another thing the Bruins are doing with this signing is showing they care most about winning and the goals they score. More than the way the media perceives them (which is shocking). More than the well-being of the developmentally disabled. More than thinking about the kind of people they have in their locker room. Which honestly makes this whole situation worse. The statement read by GM Don Sweeney contradicts itself. Sweeney outright states:
“If that had happened to one of my own children, I can’t say that I would have categorically (forgiven).”
How can someone say that, then give a guy money and a national stage to stand on? So just because Isaiah Meyer-Crothers wasn’t your own kid, you don’t care even half as much?
In the words of the late Biz Markie in his song “Just A Friend”: “Don’t gimme that, don’t even gimme that.”