The Boston Bruins should’ve known better

The Mitchell Miller fiasco could have been avoided

Image by: Amna Rafiq
A storied franchise like the Bruins shouldn’t be doing this.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—the Boston Bruins knew exactly what they were doing when they signed 20-year-old Mitchell Miller.

The Arizona Coyotes originally drafted the once-promising defenseman in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, but cut ties with him days later when it was revealed he’d been charged in an Ohio Juvenile Court for assaulting one of his classmates back in eighth grade.

Miller and a classmate had tricked the victim—Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black student with developmental disability—into licking a piece of candy they’d wiped in a urinal, necessitating precautionary tests for hepatitis, HIV, and STIs.

While this incident ultimately prompted the legal action, Meyer-Crothers’s adopted mother alleged Miller put her son through “years of torture.” This bullying involved consistent racial slurs, with Miller going so far as to tell Meyer-Crothers to “go pick cotton.”

Somehow, despite all of this, the Boston Bruins saw fit to sign Miller.

However, in walking back on the offer after receiving intense scrutiny, it’s clear they aren’t sorry for what they tried to do; they’re just sorry everyone reacted so negatively to their choice.

“It goes against what we are as a culture and as a team, and for me as a person,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said about the then-impending signing.

“The culture that we’ve built, and what these guys have built before I got here, is one of inclusion and diversity, and I think this goes against that,” winger Nick Foligno, one of the NHL’s most well-respected leaders, said.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman—who’s no stranger to missteps—handled the situation well by delivering a strong, decisive statement on the matter. He made it clear the Bruins had not been approved to sign Miller and that he remains ineligible to play in the NHL.

“So, the answer is they were free to sign him to play somewhere else, that’s another league’s issue, but nobody should think at this point he is or may ever be NHL eligible. And the Bruins understand that now,” Bettman said.

Sports media also did their part in shaming the Bruins. Outlets were quick to jump on the story, ensuring the public was made aware of Miller’s misdoings.

All the outrage resulted in the desired outcome when the Bruins retracted their contract offer. However, the explanation and excuses offered by their upper management came across more like lazy PR-fodder than sincere admissions of a harmful mistake.

When Bruins president Cam Neely apologized in a media appearance, he said the team “failed” by signing Miller and said he was “extremely upset” for making people unhappy.

Platitudes are just that; anyone with a functioning brain and the tiniest bit of foresight could have seen this becoming a disaster coming from a mile away. Sorry doesn’t mean much when you shouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place.

While some have argued Miller was only 14 and should be given a chance to prove he’s grown as a person, there are countless other talented defenseman on the market who come without the baggage of being a racist bully.

Like everyone who does wrong and serves a punishment, Miller deserves another crack at making a life for himself—just not in the NHL making millions of dollars. Hateful actions need consequences, and playing professional hockey is a privilege not everyone deserves.

Imagine how Meyer-Crothers and his family would feel if they turned on the TV to see Miller living out every kid’s dream on the Bruins. They’d be repulsed and disgusted, which is exactly why the Coyotes dropped him in the first place.

Given the predominantly white NHL’s longstanding issues with race, Neely and the other Bruins higher-ups must have known better—actions always speak louder than words.


Bruins, Hockey, NHL, racism, signing

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