Less than three days after signing Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract, the Boston Bruins announced Sunday that they would sever ties with the controversial rookie.
The decision to sign the 20-year-old guard drew strong criticism from the moment the Bears announced it Friday. Miller was previously a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020. Shortly after his selection, an Arizona Republic report detailed the 2016 juvenile court convictions of Miller and another middle school classmate for racial abuse and bullying, Isaiah Meyer – Crothers, he’s black. In the report, Meyer-Crothers’ mother said Miller began abusing her son when he was in second grade, while repeatedly using racial slurs.
The decision to sign Miller “was made after careful consideration of the facts as we know them,” Bears president Kam Neely said in a statement Sunday night. Neely said the team believes Miller’s abuse of Meyer-Crosthers was an “isolated incident” and that Miller “has taken meaningful action to reform and is committed to continued personal development.”
“Based on new information,” Neely said, the team decided to release Miller’s contract.
Neely also said the Bruins will reevaluate their internal review process.
“To Isaiah and his family, I apologize if this signing made you and the other victims feel unseen and unheard of,” Neely said. “We apologise for the profound hurt and impact we have caused.”
Miller was waived by the Coyotes less than a month after being drafted. He was also released from a scholarship to the University of North Dakota, where he attended as a freshman.
He missed the 2020-21 season, but will start again against the USHL’s Tri-City Storm in 2021-22. He scored 39 goals in 60 games, tied for the league’s lead and scored 83 points — both single-season records for a defensive player. He was named USHL Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year.
The Bears originally planned to have Miller play for their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bears. On Saturday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bateman said the Bears had not consulted with the league about signing and that Miller was “currently ineligible for the NHL.” Bateman said the league will eventually have to play Miller, while also saying he “needs to see a whole bunch of things.”
Bears forward Nick Folinho said Saturday that it was “a tough thing” for the team to learn the team had signed Miller.
“I won’t lie to you,” Flinio said. “I don’t think anyone would be too happy because we’re proud to say this is a group that cares a lot about ourselves, about ourselves and how we treat others.”
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said the culture the team had built was antithetical to the type of behavior Miller exhibited. He said Miller’s approach was “unacceptable and we do not support that.”