The Bruins announced Sunday night that they are parting ways with Mitchell Miller, a defenseman they controversially signed on Friday.
In 2016, when Miller was 14, he was found by a juvenile court in Ohio to have bullied a Black classmate with developmental disabilities, including using racist slurs, physically assaulting him, and tricking him into licking a push pop that had been wiped in a urinal.
Miller was originally drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but they quickly renounced his draft rights after more details came out, including the fact that Miller had -- as of that time -- never apologized to the victim, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. The University of North Dakota also dropped Miller from its hockey team at that time.
The Bruins' decision to sign Miller was met with widespread backlash, especially as details emerged about clear blind spots in the organization's decision-making process.
The Bruins did not talk to Meyer-Crothers or his family before signing Miller. They also did not consult with the NHL, a fact that commissioner Gary Bettman revealed on Saturday while adding that there was no guarantee that Miller would ever be eligible to play in the NHL.
Questions also arose regarding the timing of Miller apologizing to Meyer-Crothers. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said on Friday that Miller had done that on his own before the Bruins began to seriously discuss a contract, but Meyer-Crothers' mother said that there was no apology until a week before the signing was announced -- well inside the timeframe of when the Bruins began talking to Miller.
Bruins players, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Nick Foligno, also publicly expressed concerns about the signing, saying that what Miller did went against the team's culture and values.
Bruins president Cam Neely released a lengthy statement to announce the decision to cut ties with Miller. Here it is in full:
"Today the Boston Bruins have decided to part ways with Mitchell Miller, effective immediately.
The decision to sign this young man was made after careful consideration of the facts as we were aware of them: that at 14-years-old he made a poor decision that led to a juvenile conviction. We understood this to be an isolated incident and that he had taken meaningful action to reform and was committed to ongoing personal development. Based on that understanding we offered him a contract.
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. We hope that he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal growth.
We owe it to our fans, players, staff, partners and community to make sure that our practices and protocols are in keeping with the ethos that we demand from ourselves and as an organization. As such, we will be reevaluating our internal processes for vetting individuals who wish to earn the privilege of playing in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins.
We are sorry that this decision has overshadowed the incredible work the members of our organization do to support diversity and inclusion efforts. We will continue to stand against bullying and racism in all of its forms.
To Isaiah and his family, my deepest apologies if this signing made you and other victims feel unseen and unheard. We apologize for the deep hurt and impact we have caused.
Finally, as a father, I think there is a lesson to be learned here for other young people. Be mindful of careless behaviors and going with the group mentality of hurting others. The repercussions can be felt for a lifetime."
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