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Bruins sign controversial defenseman Mitchell Miller to entry-level contract

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The Boston Bruins have signed defenseman Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Miller was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft, but had his draft status revoked by the team after it was revealed he had been convicted in juvenile court of bullying. Here’s what you need to know:

Backstory

In 2016, Miller admitted in an Ohio juvenile court to bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black, developmentally disabled classmate. According to a police report, Miller and a classmate rubbed a candy push-pop inside a urinal at the school during a girls’ basketball game and enticed Meyer-Crothers to put it in his mouth, nearly falling over with laughter when he did. Both Miller and the classmate were punished by the school with suspensions.

Joni Meyer-Crothers, Isaiah’s mother, said the abuse by Miller started in second grade and involved repeated racial slurs, such as calling her adopted son the N-word and telling him to “go pick cotton,” among other racist comments.

While a freshman at the University of North Dakota, Miller provided NHL teams with a letter of apology and included “character references” from several hockey coaches and his USHL billet family. The letter of apology, obtained by The Athletic, consisted of two lengthy paragraphs that painted his juvenile conviction as a life-changing event. There have been no further incidents, Miller said, adding that he’d had counseling, attended cultural diversity classes and had volunteered with physically disabled children.

Miller has appeared in 154 career USHL games with the Tri-City Storm and Cedar Rapids from 2017 through 2022, totaling 51 goals and 82 assists for 133 points. He was named the USHL’s Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year for the 2021-22 season.

What they’re saying

Miller addressed the incidents in a statement released by the Bruins on Friday.

“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said. “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,” his statement continued. “As a member of the Bruins organization, I will continue to participate in community programs to both educate myself and share my mistakes with others to show what a negative impact those actions can have on others. To be clear, what I did when I was 14 years old was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world for being disrespectful to others and I pledge to use this opportunity to speak out against mistreating others.”

Bruins President Cam Neely called representing the Boston Bruins a “privilege we take seriously as an organization. Respect and integrity are foundational character traits we expect of our players and staff.

“Prior to signing Mitchell, our Hockey Operations and Community Relations groups spent time with him over the last few weeks to better understand who he is as an individual and learn more about a significant mistake he made when he was in middle school,” Neely said in a statement. “During this evaluation period, Mitchell was accountable for his unacceptable behavior and demonstrated his commitment to work with multiple organizations and professionals to further his education and use his mistake as a teachable moment for others. The expectation is that he will continue this important educational work with personal development and community programs as a member of the Bruins organization.”

(Photo: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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