Mitchell Miller signing a disservice to the Bruins and the victim’s family

The Bruins will risk fracturing a tight-knit locker room if or when they call up Miller.

Eldon Holmes/Tri-City Storm
During their vetting of Mitchell Miller (above), the Bruins did not contact his victim or the victim's family.

Within the confines of the Boston Bruins locker room, they pride themselves on establishing a close bond with one another.

Their tight-knit culture goes back to 2006 when Zdeno Chara arrived and set the tone as the team captain. Patrice Bergeron carried over the tone set by Chara upon the defenseman’s departure for Washington in the 2020 off-season.

Every newcomer that arrived in Boston became part of the brotherhood, with Chara and Bergeron leading the way. Even if the trades, free agent signings, and draft selections didn’t pan out, the Bruins mostly avoided players with off-ice character issues. That development changed on Friday after the Bruins announced the signing of defenseman Mitchell Miller to a three-year entry-level contract.


Miller had his draft rights renounced shortly after the Arizona Coyotes selected him in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft. The Coyotes and the NHL knew ahead of time of Miller’s conviction in an Ohio juvenile court for his racist bullying of a developmentally disabled Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. They only made their decision following significant — and rightful — public backlash following a pair of reporters detailing Miller’s behavior from The Athletic and The Arizona Republic.

Now that rightful backlash is directed at the Bruins. While acknowledging that Miller’s past behavior will remain a stain for the rest of his life, embattled Boston GM Don Sweeney failed to simmer the temperature in his attempt at damage control.

“He has to earn the opportunity to play in the NHL as a player. But I think more importantly he has to earn the respect of teammates, and really everywhere in society, to garner a second chance,” Sweeney said in his Zoom call with the media. “He’s acknowledged the mistakes that he made when he was 14 years old. It’s more about what he’s going to do now not losing sight of the disrespect he did to the young man.”

That ugly stain will remain with Miller for the rest of his life. But did he truly earn the respect, and a chance to realize his NHL dream?


Miller had to issue a court-mandated apology. He also reached out to the victim via an Instagram direct message. Whether that’s sincere enough to warrant a second chance at hockey — and life — remains skeptical given the specifics of Miller’s behavior, from repeated uses of the N-word to making Meyer-Crothers lick a urinal-infused lollipop.

In a written statement, Miller said he’s learned from his past. The Bruins said they’ll continue to monitor his behavior through community programs upon reporting to the P-Bruins. Until then, it’s all window dressing.

“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely. I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual,” Miller said in the team-issued press release.

“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. I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society. As a member of the Bruins organization, I will continue to participate in community programs to both educate myself and share my mistakes with others to show what a negative impact those actions can have on others. To be clear, what I did when I was 14 years old was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world for being disrespectful to others and I pledge to use this opportunity to speak out against mistreating others.”


The victim’s side of the story contradicts Miller’s comments expressing his remorse. Joni Meyers-Crothers, the mother of Isaiah, shared further details in a public text exchange with Guy Flemming, the host of The Pipeline Show.

The Bruins thought they did all they could in the vetting process. Yet, Sweeney confirmed the Bruins didn’t reach out to the Meyer-Crothers family before signing Miller.

In an interview with WBZ, Joni Meyer-Crothers confirmed that Miller hasn’t apologized directly to the family for his heinous acts.

The Bruins didn’t even do the bare minimum, to reach out to the Meyers-Crothers family.

Sweeney confirmed this was an organizational decision. In that regard, the Bruins will risk fracturing a tight-knit locker room if or when they call up Miller.

Sweeney admitted the Bruins didn’t have Miller on their draft board in 2020. They began pursuing Miller about a year ago. The 20-year-old produced 83 points in 60 games with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL a season ago.

Multiple NHL teams reportedly expressed interest in signing Miller. The former North Dakota commit had also garnered interest from a few unnamed collegiate hockey programs in the country.

So how did the Bruins come to this conclusion? And how did their leadership core react to this development as it played out?

“I am not going to downplay that this has been a personal struggle as well as a professional struggle as we go through and try to separate hockey player and person,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney essentially became the public figurehead to take the heat for this troubling decision. He made clear that this was an organizational decision and not one he made on his own.


He also admitted concerns about bringing Miller in when discussing the potential move with the respected and prideful Bruin leadership core.

“You can be assured that our leadership group was aware on whether we’d be considering this,” Sweeney said. “The same reaction that all of us had had as to why we’d be doing this…why? Why would you exactly to invite this?”

Indeed, why would the Bruins decide to take a chance on Miller, even though he’ll likely remain in Providence this season?

Why would the Bruins decide to restock their thin prospect system after years of subpar drafting from Sweeney with a player who hasn’t proven remorseful aside from his written statements and initial comments to the press upon arriving in Providence?

And why would the Bruins potentially throw a wrench into their season following their 10-1-0 start instead of saying thanks, but no thanks, to Miller?

“Walking away would’ve been much easier in that regard,” Sweeney added.

It would’ve been the right decision. Instead, some 60 years after Willie O’Ree’s NHL debut, Friday became one of the darkest days in Bruins history.

The guys in the locker room deserved better. The passionate fanbase deserved better. Most of all, the Meyers-Crothers family deserved better.


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