Mitchell Miller removed from North Dakota hockey team

Mitchell Miller
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Just one day after the Arizona Coyotes officially renounced his draft rights, the University of North Dakota announced on Friday that defenseman Mitchell Miller has been removed from its hockey team.

The Coyotes drafted Miller in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL draft despite the fact he and another student had been involved in the racist abuse of a developmentally disabled classmate several years earlier.

Miller was sentenced to 25 hours of community service and required to participate in counseling as a result of his actions.

The abuse included physical abuse, racial slurs, and tricking the student into eating candy that had been placed in a urinal.

In recent days more information surfaced about Miller’s actions, including the revelation from the mother of the victim, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, that Miller had never apologized or worked to make amends for his actions, while showing little to no remorse.

The announcement from North Dakota came in a letter from university president Andrew Armacost.

That letter reads as follows:

“Dear UND Campus Community,

I have been closely monitoring the situation concerning Men’s Hockey student-athlete Mitchell Miller, who was involved in a situation as a youth in 2016. We expect our students to live by our values in the classroom, in the community and when representing the University on the field of play.

After much consideration and discussions with Mitchell, the Miller family, our Athletics Direction, Bill Chaves, and coach Brad Berry, I have decided that the best course of action for Mitchell and the University is that he no longer be a member of the UND Men’s Hockey program. Mitchell may remain a student at UND and we will continue to support his future intellectual and interpersonal growth.

We wish Mitchell well in whatever path he chooses in his future endeavors.

Lastly, I want to thank coach Berry and Athletics Director Chaves for working with me as we navigated through this difficult decision together, and for working with Mitchell and his family.”

The Coyotes initially planned on sticking with the Miller pick, arguing they were in a good position to help guide him and become a leader in preventing racism and bullying in the future. That position turned out to be disastrous and brought instant criticism.

Every team — including the Coyotes — knew of the incidents, with several reportedly removing Miller from their draft boards entirely.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.