The Boston Bruins parted ways Sunday with Mitchell Miller, the controversial defenseman they had signed to an entry-level contract on Friday, and issued a public apology to the victim of his bullying.
Miller, when he was 14, had admitted in an Ohio juvenile court to bullying a Black classmate who had developmental disabilities. The classmate, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, was tricked into licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal. The victim also told the Arizona Republic that Miller had used racial slurs around him.
“To Isaiah and his family, my deepest apologies if this signing made you and other victims feel unseen and unheard,” Bruins president Cam Neely said in a statement. “We apologize for the deep hurt and impact we have caused.”
The signing had generated immediate backlash, with Bruins players questioning the move and commissioner Gary Bettman saying that Miller, 20, wasn’t eligible to play in the NHL.
General manager Don Sweeney said Friday that Miller had apologized to Meyer-Crothers and would enter community programs to educate him “about what being disrespectful does for you.”
But Meyer-Crothers’ mother, Joni, told WBZ Friday that Miller had bullied her son for years and that the player had reached out only last week via Instagram.
Neely said the offer was made to Miller because they believed the incident at 14 was an isolated one and he had taken meaningful efforts to reform himself.
“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,” Neely said. “We hope that he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal growth.”
The Bruins are the third team to cut ties with Miller. The Arizona Coyotes, who drafted him in 2020, and the University of North Dakota did so two years ago. He returned last season to the United States Hockey League’s Tri-City Storm and won defenseman and player of the year awards after a 39-goal, 83-point season.
Sweeney said he had not reached out to the victim’s family before signing Miller.
“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,” Neely said. “As such, we will be re-evaluating our internal processes for vetting individuals who wish to earn the privilege of playing in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins.”
Neely added: “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.”