Less than three days after Mitchell Miller signed an entry-level contract, the Boston Bruins announced on Sunday that they would cut ties with the controversial prospect.
The decision to sign the 20-year-old defender was met with heavy criticism from the moment the Bruins announced it on Friday. Miller was previously a fourth-round draft pick by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020. Shortly after he was drafted, an Arizona Republic report described how Miller and another high school classmate were convicted by the juvenile court in 2016 for racial abuse and bullying. by Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, who is black. In the report, Meyer-Crothers’ mother said Miller began abusing her son in the second grade, while also using repeated racial swear words.
Bruins president Cam Neely said in a statement Sunday night that the decision to sign Miller was “made after careful consideration of the facts as we know them.” Neely said the team believed Miller’s abuse of Meyer-Crothers was “an isolated incident” and that Miller had “taken meaningful action to reform and be committed to continued personal development.”
Neely said that “on the basis of new information”, the franchise decided to cancel the contract given to Miller.
Neely also said the Bruins would re-evaluate their internal audit process.
“To Isaiah and his family, my deepest apologies if this signing made you and other victims feel unseen and unheard of,” Neely said. “We apologize for the deep pain and impact we have caused.”
Miller had his design rights relinquished by the Coyotes less than a month after he was selected. He was also fired from his scholarship to the University of North Dakota, where he was enrolled as a freshman.
He sat out the 2020-21 season but started playing again in 2021-22 with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. He finished with 39 goals tied for the league lead and had 83 points – both records in one season for a defender – in 60 games. He was named the USHL’s Defenseman of the Year and Player of the Year.
The Bruins initially planned to have Miller play for their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. On Saturday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league had not been consulted by the Bruins about the signing and that Miller “is not eligible to be in the NHL at this time.” Bettman said the league should eventually clear Miller to play, while also saying he should “see a lot of things” going forward.
Bruins forward Nick Foligno said on Saturday it was “a difficult thing” for the team to learn that the organization had signed Miller.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” Foligno said. “I don’t think any man was too happy because we’re so proud to say that this is a group that cares a lot about ourselves, how we behave and how we treat people.”
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said the culture the team has built runs counter to the kind of behavior Miller exhibited. He said what Miller did was “unacceptable, and we don’t stand behind that.”