Breaking News
More () »

Boston Bruins rescind offer to Mitchell Miller, citing 'new information'

Miller, from Sylvania, was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but later dropped after facing backlash due to a 2016 juvenile conviction for bullying.
Credit: Toledo Cherokee
Mitchell Miller skates during an open camp session with the Toledo Cherokee in August 2021.

BOSTON — Days after signing an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins, defenseman Mitchell Miller, from Sylvania, will not be joining the organization after all.

Bruins president Cam Neely announced in a statement on Sunday evening that they are parting ways with Miller "effective immediately."

There has been a whirlwind of activity surrounding Miller, who is still dogged by a juvenile conviction in 2016 for bullying a Black student with special needs when he was an 8th grader in Sylvania.

On Friday, the Bruins announced that Miller had signed an entry-level contract with the team after being evaluated by the team "over the last few weeks" as an individual and regarding the incident.

The decision to sign Miller did not go over well with players, including Boston captain Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron said he was consulted about the possibility and was “on the fence.”

“The culture that we built here goes against that type of behavior,” Bergeron said. “In this locker room, we’re all about inclusion, diversity, respect.”

Boston forward Nick Foligno called the signing “hard to swallow.”

“Tough thing to hear for our group,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie to you. I don’t think any guy was too happy.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Saturday that Mitchell Miller is not eligible to play in the league. “[The Bruins] were free to sign him to play somewhere else, that’s another league’s issue," Bettman said. "but nobody should think at this point he is or may ever be NHL eligible. And the Bruins understand that now.”

It's unclear if the Bruins were aware of Bettman's stance prior to signing Miller.

On Sunday, team president Cam Neely said in a statement the Bruins thought Miller’s bullying of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers was an isolated incident and reversed course.

"Based on new information, we believe it is the best decision at this time to rescind the opportunity for Mitchell Miller to represent the Boston Bruins," Neely said. "We hope that he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal growth."

Neely also says Miller was offered a contract based on the belief that the juvenile conviction was an “isolated incident” and Miller was “committed to ongoing personal development.”

Neely did not specify the exact nature or source of the new information that led to the change of heart.

You can read Neely's entire statement here.

Miller was the Arizona Coyotes' lone draft pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, but was later renounced by that team.

The Arizona Coyotes picked Miller in the 4th round, 111th overall, in 2020. He was the Coyotes' only pick in that draft.

Miller's character soon came into question over a 2016 conviction in Lucas County Juvenile Court. Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. 

He and another teenager were accused of making a Black student with developmental disabilities eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.

Three weeks later, under growing criticism, the Coyotes renounced Miller's rights, making him a free agent.

"What we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights," Coyotes' president Xavier Gutierrez said in a statement at the time.

As reported by ESPN, Miller was subsequently dropped by the University of North Dakota hockey program before the season began.

Miller did not play in 2020-21, but returned to his previous team, Tri-City Storm of the USHL, for his final year of junior eligibility during the 2021-22 season. Miller set league records as a defenseman, playing 60 games during the Storm's regular season and five during the postseason.

Miller was to report to the Boston Bruins' AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, beginning Friday.

A statement by Miller was included along with the announcement of his signing on Friday by the Bruins.

"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," Miller said in the statement. "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."

Neely announced the signing, saying that Miller was evaluated 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."

The team's hockey operations and community relations groups handled the evaluation.

"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," Neely said.

After rescinding the offer, Neely addressed the methods that led to the Bruins' initial decision to sign Miller.

"We owe it to our fans, players, staff, partners and community to make sure that our practices and protocols are in keeping with the ethos that we demand from ourselves and as an organization," he said. "As such, we will be re-evaluating our internal processes for vetting individuals who wish to earn the privilege of playing in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins."

Miller provided all 31 teams with a letter of apology prior to the draft, saying he had "extreme regret" for the incidents and had changed. At least 10 NHL teams removed Miller from their 2020 draft lists, sources told The Athletic.

Joni Meyer-Crothers, the boy's mother, told The Arizona Republic that Miller started bullying her son in second grade and used racial epithets. She said Miller never personally apologized to her son or their family other than a court-mandated letter.

“We are sorry that this decision has overshadowed the incredible work the members of our organization do to support diversity and inclusion efforts,” Neely said Sunday, offering his apology to Meyer-Crothers and his family and saying the team stands against bullying and racism. “I think there is a lesson to be learned here for other young people. Be mindful of careless behaviors and going with the group mentality of hurting others. The repercussions can be felt for a lifetime.” 


Before You Leave, Check This Out