The Boston Bruins decided Sunday to rescind their contract offer to prospect Mitchell Miller, whose draft rights were relinquished by Arizona for bullying a black classmate with developmental disabilities in high school.
The team signed Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday, prompting criticism from players and comments from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that the 20-year-old would currently be ineligible to play in the league.
Team president Cam Neely said in a statement that the Bruins believed Miller’s bullying of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers was an isolated incident and changed course based on new information.
“We owe it to our fans, players, staff, partners and community to make sure our practices and protocols are in accordance with the spirit we demand of ourselves and as an organization,” Neely said. “As such, we will re-evaluate our internal processes for vetting individuals who wish to earn the privilege of playing in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins.”
Earlier Sunday, agent Eustace King released a statement saying O2K Sports Management engaged in serious deliberation before deciding to represent Miller, saying the defenseman was working and volunteering for organizations and vowed to change his ways. King did not immediately respond to a message Sunday night seeking comment on the Bruins’ decision.
Boston’s option to sign Miller was not well received by the players, from captain Patrice Bergeron on down. Bergeron said he was consulted about the possibility and that he was “undecided.”
“The culture we built here goes against that kind of behavior,” Bergeron said. “In this locker room, it’s all about inclusion, diversity, respect.”
Boston forward Nick Foligno called the signing “hard to swallow.”
“A difficult thing for our group to hear,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t think any boy was too happy.”
CLOCK | Mitchell Miller deemed ineligible:
The Coyotes selected Miller in the fourth round of the 2020 draft despite learning of his 2016 assault conviction. The team parted ways with Miller amid criticism after learning more about the harassment.
The University of North Dakota announced a day later that Miller was no longer on the school hockey team.
Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teen were accused of making Meyer-Crothers eat candy after wiping it on a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed him being kicked and punched.
Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behavior. Joni Meyer-Crothers said Miller never personally apologized to Isaiah or his family other than in a court-ordered letter.
“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely bad decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in a statement. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and apologize to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago.”
Miller sat out the 2020-21 season before scoring 39 goals with 44 assists for the USHL’s Tri-City in 2021-22. He was named USHL Player and Defenseman of the Year after setting league records for goals and points by a defenseman.
“We are sorry that this decision has overshadowed the incredible work that members of our organization do to support diversity and inclusion efforts,” Neely said, apologizing to Meyer-Crothers and her family and saying the team stands against harassment. and racism. “I think there is a lesson to be learned here for other young people. Be mindful of careless behaviors and follow the group mentality of hurting others. The repercussions can be felt throughout life.”
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