On Friday morning, Nov. 4, the Boston Bruins announced that they signed defenseman Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract. On Sunday, the team did a full 180 degree turn and backed out of the deal based on what they called new information.
This deal is one that has been met with tons of criticism and the Bruins are left looking incredibly poor, having lost a ton of credibility during this whole process.
From a hockey standpoint, this move was a solid one for the Boston Bruins. The 20-year-old is coming off a season for the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League (USHL) in which he scored 30 goals and 83 points in just 60 games. There is no denying how skilled he is, though even with that skill, this signing (and then backing out) is one that paints the organization in a very bad light.
Background Story on Miller
For those who may be unaware or have forgotten, Miller was selected in the fourth round (111th overall) in the 2020 Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. By all accounts, he was skilled enough to be a first-round selection, but several teams chose not to touch him after they were informed of some bullying incidents he was a part of years prior. Despite that, the ‘Yotes chose to take a chance on him, a move they came to regret just a short time later.
Less than a month later, the Coyotes renounced the pick following the public release and the full-fledged accounts of what Miller had done. What went on will be detailed below, but a warning to all reading that those who are unaware of the case may find it to be disturbing.
Back in 2016, Miller, along with another classmate, was found delinquent in an Ohio court on charges of assault. The victim was a Black and mentally disabled classmate, whose name is Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. Miller and the other perpetrator repeatedly bullied Meyer-Crothers in numerous ways, which included both punching and kicking him, and also on plenty of occasions directing racial slurs at him. There was also one particularly gruesome and horrid act in which they tricked him into licking a piece of candy that had been wiped in a urinal.
Bruins Don’t Appear to Have Done Their Homework
Let me first say, I am all for second chances. As a society, there are many of us who have done things in the past that we now regret, and while we don’t like to admit it, we have all been around bullying at some point in our lives, whether it be as the victim, perpetrator, or a bystander. While absolutely no form of bullying is okay at any point, most would agree that what Miller did goes far beyond any usual bullying. While it should be noted that he was just 14 years old at the time, there are still some serious questions as to whether or not he has taken full accountability for his past actions.
Shortly after this story regarding Miller was made public, he claimed that he had apologized to Meyer-Crothers, a claim that the victim’s mother said was not true. In a new statement put out by the Bruins shortly after Friday’s signing, Miller once again stated that he has apologized to the victim for what transpired.
“When I was in the eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in his 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. I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society.”
With how Miller’s statement is written, it seems to suggest that he has since reached out to Meyer-Crothers to apologize. This time, that does appear to be partially true, though according to Meyer-Crothers’ mother, he has still yet to try and meet up in person, and instead sent a written apology over Snapchat.
To add to this, the Bruins in a statement referred to this as being a one-time incident, which is not at all the case. On top of that, they failed to mention anything in regard to the racist behavior Miller displayed towards Meyer-Crothers. They have been catching a ton of flack for leaving that very important element out, which is very well deserved.
What also doesn’t look good at all in regards to the overall moral compass of this management group came when Don Sweeney met with the media to discuss the signing on Friday afternoon. The Bruins’ general manager said that he nor anyone from the organization reached out to the Meyer-Crothers family before the signing. As if that weren’t bad enough, he also admitted that signing Miller could be the wrong decision, and said that he wasn’t sure he would be able to forgive him if the victim were his own son. What was meant to help clear things up was perhaps the biggest trainwreck of a press conference possible.
There is also a whole other element to this, which involves current players on the Bruins roster. While the leadership group of the team was able to give management their input prior to the signing, it appears Sweeney and co. already had their minds made up. Several players, including captain Patrice Bergeron, have seemed to be very hesitant in regard to the decision.
“I was on the fence,” Bergeron said about the signing. “I think as a person, but also as a team, we stand for integrity and inclusion and diversity. That was the first thing that came out of my mouth, was that it goes against what we are as a culture and as a team, and for me as a person. I’ve been told lately that he (Miller) is working hard to make some changes, to hopefully make those bad decisions in the past help others to not do that. For me, I think the work is on him.”
That certainly isn’t a ringing endorsement, and one that has people questioning how Miller will fit in with the Bruins locker room should he ever find his way to the NHL level. Assuming Bergeron had similar sentiments behind closed doors when speaking with management, it is very fair to question why Sweeney even considered this signing.
Second Chances Are Earned, Not Given
As I mentioned earlier in the article, I personally am a true believer in second chances. In my opinion, we are often too quick to try and rid someone from society who made a mistake when they were younger. Whether they would admit to it or not, there are plenty of adults who have made mistakes back in the day that they are not proud of. That said, almost all can look back and realize that those were indeed mistakes and that what they did is no longer reflective of their character. Unfortunately, immaturity can lead to some very stupid decisions.
By no means am I saying what Miller did was comparable to the mistakes many make when they are young. This was far, far worse. That said, he was only 14 years old at the time. If he were to prove that he was truly sorry for the trauma he caused Meyer-Crothers, and Meyer-Crothers himself was open to giving Miller a second chance, there would be many, including myself, who would be open to that. However, that doesn’t appear to be what has happened here.
With Miller’s statement shortly after word of this first got around, as well as the statement he made today, it seems he is putting himself first rather than the victim. If he were truly sorry for these horrendous actions, one would think he would do anything and everything in his power to meet with Meyer-Crothers face-to-face to try and make amends. Sending a message over Snapchat feels far less genuine, and more of a damage control move than one of true regret.
There will be some in Miller’s corner, who argue that he shouldn’t have his life ruined over something that happened when he was a kid. Had he taken proper action since, or even better, before this story came to light, I believe plenty would agree. However, he simply has not done that.
For anyone reading, imagine your thoughts if your own child went through the pain that Meyer-Crothers did. Even Sweeney himself seemed troubled by that. Perhaps Miller is able to prove in the coming years that he has indeed changed, but the fact he was able to sign a new deal prior to proving that reflects very poorly on this Bruins management team. That they are backing away doesn’t change anything.
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