June 5, 2023
Sweeney sheds light on the Bruins' reasons for signing Mitchell Miller

Sweeney sheds light on the Bruins’ reasons for signing Mitchell Miller

The Boston Bruins signed controversial defenseman Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday.

Miller was convicted in a juvenile court in 2016 for bullying a black classmate with developmental disabilities at the age of 14. The Arizona Coyotes drafted Miller in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL draft but waived his drafting rights after an Arizona Republic investigation shed more light on how Miller and a classmate bullied another classmate, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and abused.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said on a Zoom call with reporters Friday afternoon that he was struggling to determine if signing Mitchell was a decision the organization should make.

“I’m not going to downplay the fact that this was both a personal and professional fight as we try to separate the hockey player and the person and have spent a lot of time with Mitchell over the last 10 days in particular,” Sweeney said.

“As I spent time with my own family and went through some of the details, I came to the conclusion that if the organization was willing to support the person and give an opportunity, I realized that I come from lifelong educators – especially from My dad He was an assistant principal, school principal who had suspended children his entire professional life but always welcomed them back when they were willing to play by the rules and move forward in their lives because it was more about opportunity and not punishment. Mitchell paid punishment and he will carry that for the rest of his life and we will hold him to a standard that he needs to understand that each and every one of us as individuals looks in the mirror every day and respects others and needs to be unilaterally inclusive.”

Sweeney explained multiple times on the Zoom call that the decision to sign Miller could ultimately be the wrong one for the Bruins.

“I can’t categorically tell you that this is absolutely the right decision,” Sweeney said. “This is an opportunity we are offering to a young man who will work to continue earning trust and respect, as each and every one of us does every day. My personal judgment on this was not the last word. It was only part of the equation. But after spending time with him and having a clear understanding of the direction he wants his life to take, I felt like if other teams were willing to give him something — I won’t speak for other teams — one Chance, I think we all need to look in the mirror and say, ‘Why shouldn’t we give it a chance?’

“I’ve also come to the conclusion that I don’t think forgiveness is a part of it, because if that had happened to any of my own children, I can’t categorically say I would have[forgiven]. But I would also applaud someone for having to go down this path if you’re ready to welcome someone back for a second chance.

Sweeney explains the reasons behind the Bruins’ decision to sign Mitchell Miller

Sweeney also noted that he had spoken to some Bruins executives about the possibility of signing Miller — though he didn’t name specific players.

“You can rest assured that our leadership group was aware of this as we thought about it,” Sweeney said. “The same reaction that a lot of us had, like, ‘Why? Why would you want to invite that?’

“Again, we’re just trying to make decisions based on information we have and following up on it. People deserve, deserve second chances in life, as long as those concerns don’t repeat themselves and they can continue to grow as people.”

From a hockey perspective, Miller fits the profile of an attacking defenseman. Last season, he had 83 points (39 goals, 44 assists) in 60 games for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm.

“He had a great offensive season in the USHL last year. He was an older player in that league,” Sweeney said, part of the offense giving him a chance and a chance as a pro. We will work with him on defending the game. He was a striker who has returned to defence. We will teach him how to play defense and use his offensive qualities and hockey acumen. I think he has a chance to be an NHL player. He has attributes that certainly translate to the new style of play.”

Miller reported to the Providence Bruins on Friday. It is not known when he will debut for the AHL club.

“He has to earn the opportunity to play in the NHL as a player,” Sweeney said. “I think, more importantly, he has to earn the respect of his teammates and really everywhere in society to get a second chance.”

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