Mitchell Miller will be returning to the Tri-City Storm for the 2021-22 season.
The 19-year-old had his draft rights renounced by the Arizona Coyotes and is no longer a member of the University of North Dakota men's hockey program because of an off-ice incident in 2016. Miller did not play competitive hockey during the 2020-2021 season.
Miller was charged with assault and a violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act in February of 2016 after he and another student admitted to bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black classmate with a learning disability.
Meyer-Crothers, who is now 18, told the Arizona Republic that Miller had taunted him for years growing up and called him names like "brownie" and used the "N-word" while repeatedly hitting him. He said it "hurt my heart" when he saw the news that Miller had been drafted by the Coyotes in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Mitchell last played with the Storm during the 2019-2020 campaign where he was named the USHL’s “Defenseman of the Week” four times and earned an All-USHL First Team selection.
“After careful consideration, the Tri-City Storm has decided to provide Mitchell Miller with an opportunity to resume his amateur hockey career,” Storm president of hockey operations and head coach Anthony Noreen said in a statement. “We know Mitchell very well and we are convinced what happened when he was 14 isn’t indicative of his character or who he is now as a 19-year-old young man.
“Mitchell and the Storm do not minimize what happened five years ago. Bullying and racially offensive remarks are wrong under any circumstance. Mitchell is fully aware of that, he regrets what he did, and is genuinely sorry. He’s grown and matured greatly since then, and we believe in the person that he’s become. We will continue to support and guide Mitchell to ensure his maturation and commitment to helping others continues.”
The Storm add that Mitchell has been actively involved in community service initiatives that support anti-bullying efforts, special needs children, disabled athletes, the homeless and the elderly. He will also be participating in a Diversity and Inclusion program for personal and professional improvement, and working with a nationally recognized sports psychologist.
"I'm grateful for the chance to resume my playing career with the Tri-City Storm” said Mitchell Miller. “What I did when I was 14 years old was hurtful to others, and I'm truly sorry for that. I've done a lot of growing up over the past five years, and become a mature person who is respectful of everyone at all times. I pledge to make the most of this opportunity, and be a good person on and off the ice, helping others in as many ways as I can."