NHL’s Boston Bruins Release Controversial Prospect Who Bullied, Assaulted Black Classmate in Middle School

President Cam Neely of the Boston Bruins looks on during Round One of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
President Cam Neely of the Boston Bruins looks on during Round One of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Isaiah Meyer-Crothers’ mother says Mitchell Miller relentlessly bullied her developmentally disabled Black son since the second grade. According to the Associated Press, at the age of 14, in 2016, Miller pleaded guilty to “one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act” after he and another teenager were seen on surveillance video “kicking and punching” Isaiah. They “were accused of making Meyer-Crothers eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal.”

Despite knowing all this, in 2020, the Arizona Coyotes still picked Miller in the fourth round of the NHL draft. Once the backlash started, the team relinquished his draft rights, but obviously, that wasn’t the end of Miller’s career. Since then, he’s spent time playing in the USHL, a junior league from USA Hockey and was its player of the year during the 2021-22 season. And because athletic ability seems to always trump humanity and morality, on Friday, the NHL’s Boston Bruins signed him to an entry-level contract.

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However, after an outpouring of criticism, the team has decided to release Miller. Bruins players, as well as league commissioner Gary Bettman, were outspoken about their disapproval of the decision. In a statement, Bruins president Cam Neely explained that the club will reevaluate how players are chosen to join the team.

“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.”

Considering that all of this information has been well-known for years, I don’t understand what more vetting you needed to do. This absolutely wasn’t a situation where his conviction was kept secret and you just found out. Both the Coyotes and his college team, the University of North Dakota, have previously cut ties with Miller over this same issue, so you knew exactly who you were giving a contract to. Just admit that you saw his record-breaking USHL numbers and didn’t care about the trauma he caused Meyer-Carothers and his family. Bruins players, including captain Patrice Bergeron, who said he was “on the fence” about Miller joining the team, were not happy with the situation.

“The culture that we built here goes against that type of behavior,” Bergeron said. “In this locker room, we’re all about inclusion, diversity, respect.”

“Tough thing to hear for our group,” forward Nick Foligno added. “I’m not gonna lie to you. I don’t think any guy was too happy.”

The Bruins’ initial signing of Miller included a statement, where he expressed regret for his immature actions.

“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in a statement. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized 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.”

This was obviously written by a PR expert. It is too impersonal and far too carefully worded. Nothing about this says it’s the feelings of a real-life sincere human being. It’s like someone was using an apology algorithm. Neely also issued a statement on the Bruins’ behalf, but honestly, it rings hollow, since this whole incident was completely avoidable.

“We are sorry that this decision has overshadowed the incredible work the members of our organization do to support diversity and inclusion efforts,” Neely said. “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.”

Or in this case, don’t worry about how much you hurt another person, because as long as you’re really good at playing hockey, we don’t care how you treat Black people.

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