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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Bruins sign, quickly part ways with controversial player

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TW: This article contains details of racism and abuse.

With the Boston Bruins off to the best start in team history and currently sitting atop the NHL’s Eastern Conference, a spotlight was already shining on this stellar group. But recently, the spotlight has gotten brighter, and not because of the team’s impressive gameplay.

The Bruins announced on Nov. 4 that defenseman Mitchell Miller had been signed to an entry-level contract. However, he was released just two days later following backlash over Miller’s past bullying of a disabled Black classmate in school.

This is not the first time Miller has almost played in the NHL. The 20-year-old defenseman was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but was dropped shortly after the Arizona Republic initially reported the abuse inflicted upon Isaiah Meyer-Crothers by Miller. 

Miller had been convicted of his actions in an Ohio juvenile court in 2016, admitting he “used racial slurs against Meyer-Crothers, physically assaulted him and at one point tricked him ‘into licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal,’ according a police report,” ESPN wrote in 2020.

Since Miller’s controversial past has been publicized for a few years now, it came as a shock to fans and even current Bruins players when the organization decided to offer him a contract.

“The culture we’ve built and these guys have built before I got here, is one of inclusion. I think [Miller’s signing] goes against that,” said Bruins forward Nick Foligno to the media after the signing. “I don’t think any guy was too happy because of how proud we are to say this is a group that cares a lot about ourselves, and how we carry ourselves and how we treat people.”

Hockey fans were left wondering why the Bruins’ front office decided to sign Miller when current players had vocalized their concerns about it. In another turn of events, there were questions over if Miller was even allowed to play.

“He’s not coming into the NHL. He’s not eligible at this point to come into the NHL,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “I can’t tell you that he’ll ever be eligible to come into the NHL.”

On Nov. 6, the Bruins announced they were cutting ties with Miller, citing “new information.” In a press conference, Bruins president Cam Neely admitted the team didn’t reach out to Meyer-Crothers or his family before signing Miller, among other issues.

“I’m extremely upset that we have made a lot of people unhappy with our decision. I take pride in the Bruins organization and what we stand for, and we failed that,” Neely said.

Some wondered why the organization had decided to make such a controversial move in the first place considering the team was in such a good place.

“There’s no doubt [Miller] is a good defenseman but hearing even Bruins players speak out against his signing, it didn’t seem he was worth it at all,” said Suffolk junior Isabelle Slocum. “With any sports team, having a good relationship with your teammates on and off the ice has a huge impact on their performance and I feel like that was threatened by signing him.”

On Nov. 9, Meyer-Crothers released a statement about what he endured from Miller over the years, including that the impact is still felt today. According to Meyer-Crothers’ statement, the only apology from Miller came via social media, and Miller even asked him why his parents were speaking out on his behalf, and why he couldn’t speak for himself.

Meyer-Crothers said he’s being bullied online by strangers and stated that he and Miller are not friends.

“It hurts my heart what he did to me,” Meyer-Crothers said.

For a fan base that’s already harshly critical of its front office, Bruins management did themselves no favors with this incident. To make matters worse, sources say the Bruins may have minimal options for voiding Miller’s contract, one of which includes buying it out.

On Nov. 15, the Bruins announced they hired a team, led by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to conduct an independent review of the organization’s player vetting process. They intend to share the results with the public after the investigation is completed.

Fans are hoping to leave this disastrous signing in the past and continue the Bruins’ hot streak.

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About the Contributor
Grace MacDonald, Graduate Copy Editor | she/her
Grace is a graduate student from Seekonk, Mass., majoring in communication with an integrated marketing communication concentration. Besides having a passion for writing, she enjoys listening to Taylor Swift, watching movies and exploring the city. She loves to travel and rock climbs in her free time. After graduating, she hopes to work in corporate communications. Follow Grace on Twitter @GraceM123456

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Bruins sign, quickly part ways with controversial player