With things going so well on the ice for the Bruins, the team threw a wrench into things by making a signing that’s (generously) questionable and flying in the face of “hockey is for everyone.”
The B’s announced that they have signed USHL defenseman Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract.
On the hockey side, Miller spent last season with USHL’s Tri-City, where he had 83 points in 60 games and won both Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year awards.
However, Miller is better known (rightfully) for horrific off-ice actions, namely bullying and racially abusing a disabled middle school classmate.
Drafted by the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes in 2020, Miller’s selection was abandoned by the Coyotes after it was discovered that he repeatedly used racial slurs, including the N-word, towards a black classmate and the person, who was also disabled, bullied. This bullying included making the student lick candy that had been grated in a urinal. The acts, in which Miller physically assaulted his classmate throughout junior high, resulted in Miller being convicted in juvenile court.
The Bruins know exactly what they are getting into as their press release begins with a message from Miller himself:
“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely bad decision and acted very immaturely. I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the person. Since the incident, I have a better understanding of the far-reaching implications of my actions, which I failed to recognize and understand almost seven years ago. I strive to be a better person and make a positive contribution to society. As a member of the Bruins organization, I will continue to participate in community programs to educate myself and share my mistakes with others to show the negative impact these actions can have on others. To be clear, what I did when I was 14 was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world for being disrespectful to others and I vow to take this opportunity to speak out against the abuse of others.”
You may recall that when the draft draft story surfaced again, Miller was undrafted by the Coyotes and then banned from playing hockey at the University of North Dakota.
He ended up in the USHL, where the Bruins seem to have decided that despite what was outlined above, he was worth picking up.
For those who will immediately jump to “people change, he was just a kid,” there’s a world of difference between an elementary school kid attacking cars and an elementary school kid abusing and bullying a classmate, let alone a classmate , he is disabled.
Miller also showed little more than court-ordered remorse until the story began to tarnish his NHL prospects
When things got hot, Miller apologized to the AND team.
Isaiah Meyer-Crothers’ mother told the Arizona Republic that Miller never directly apologized to her son except in a juvenile court-mandated letter.
Even Miller’s Bruins-spun statement rings hollow when he apologizes for making “a bad decision” and regretting “the incident,” even though that was a pattern of behavior (note the use of the word “repeatedly”).
What does the President of the Bruins think?
“Representing the Boston Bruins is a privilege that we take seriously as an organization. Respect and integrity are fundamental character traits that we expect from our players and employees. Prior to signing Mitchell, our Hockey Operations and Community Relations groups spent time with him over the past few weeks to better understand who he is as an individual and to learn more about a grave mistake he made in middle school Has. During this evaluation period, Mitchell was responsible for his unacceptable behavior and demonstrated his commitment to work with multiple organizations and professionals to continue his education and use his mistake as a teachable moment for others. He is expected to continue this important educational work with personal development and community programs as a member of the Bruins organization.”
So yes. Sweeney is speaking to the media this afternoon, so that should be interesting.
Added context from today’s media availabilities:
His response: “I think it’s a huge opportunity for me and the Bruins. Personally, I’m here to improve myself with community stuff, diversity training and more in the community.
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 4, 2022
Sweeney on Mitchell Miller’s signing: “I’m not going to downplay the fact that this was both a personal and professional struggle.”
They did not contact the victim’s family during the verification process.
I just have a hard time thinking it’s worth it.
— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) November 4, 2022
Sweeney: “This decision could be wrong. It created a lot of negativity that we didn’t need or want.” Says that every time they were about to leave, they “remembered he was in 8th grade, he was 14.”
— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) November 4, 2022
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