“We understood that this was an isolated incident and that he took meaningful reform action and was committed to continued personal development. Based on that agreement, we offered him a contract,” Neely said in a statement.
However, “[b]Based on new information, we believe that removing Mitchell Miller’s ability to represent the Boston Bruins is the best decision at this time. We hope he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal growth.”
Neely did not say what the new information was and apologized to Isaiah Meyers-Crothers (the classmate Miller bullied) and his family, as well as members of the organization, fans, partners and the community.
“I sincerely apologize to Isaiah and his family if this signing made you and other victims feel unseen and unheard. We apologize for the deep pain and impact we have caused,” Neely said. “We will continue to stand up against bullying and racism in all its forms.” He added that the team will be “re-evaluating our internal processes for screening people.”
Bruins players have criticized the offer, with team captain Patrice Bergeron saying it goes against the team’s culture of “inclusion, diversity, respect”, although Bergeron said he had been consulted and was “on the fence”.
“The culture that we’ve built here is contrary to that type of behavior,” Bergeron, who is in his 19th season with Boston, said via the Associated Press. “This dressing room is all about inclusion, diversity and respect.”
Nick Foligno, a veteran striker, said the signing was “hard to swallow” and “hard for our group to hear”. i won’t lie to you I don’t think anyone was too happy.”
Bettman told reporters Saturday the Bruins had not consulted with the league, calling Miller’s actions at 14 “reprehensible” and “unacceptable.”
“He’s not coming into the NHL. He is not eligible to come into the NHL at this time. I can’t tell you he’s ever eligible for the NHL,” Bettman said at the NHL Global Series in Tampere, Finland.
“So the answer is they were free to sign him to play elsewhere, that’s another league issue, but nobody should think at this point that he’s eligible for the NHL or ever could be. And the Bruins understand that now.”
When the Bruins signed Miller, he said in a team statement, “When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely bad decision and acted very immaturely.”
“I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have a better understanding of the far-reaching consequences of my actions, which I failed to recognize and understand almost seven years ago,” he said. “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.”
Archive: Coyotes Waive Draft Rights to Player Who Admitted Horrific Bullying Incident
Isaiah Meyer-Crothers’ mother told the Athletic that if the team had come forward, they would have learned the incident was not an isolated case.
“It should never have happened, number one,” said Joni Meyer-Crothers when asked how she felt about the withdrawn offer. “But that’s exactly what has to happen. Mitchell needs help for what he did to our son. It could be a blessing in disguise. Get the help you need. We want Mitchell to get help. That’s the most important. But maybe you need to rehabilitate yourself first. Then get your hockey career back.”
When the Arizona Coyotes Miller moved in from the University of North Dakota in October 2020, team president and general manager Xavier Gutierrez said in a statement that officials were aware of the bullying incident but “embraced the situation as a teachable moment to work with.” Mitchell to hold him accountable for his actions and to give him the opportunity to take a leadership role in efforts to end bullying and racism.”
The Arizona Republic reported at the time that Miller and another classmate admitted in a juvenile court to bullying Meyer-Crothers while all three lived in suburban Toledo. Meyer-Crothers said Miller mocked him for years, calling him “brownie” and using the N-word, and that Miller and another boy made him lick candy they wiped off in a bathroom urinal before they attacked him during an attack that was filmed by surveillance cameras.
Miller and the other boy were charged with assault in an Ohio court, admitted to bullying in a juvenile court, sentenced to 25 hours of community service and asked to apologize to Meyer-Crothers.
Gutierrez apologized to Meyer-Crothers and his family when the team relinquished the rights to Miller shortly after that draft, saying it was “building a model franchise on and off the ice.”