Boston Bruins front office is out of touch following Mitchell Miller fiasco

Boston Bruins president Cam Neely. Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Bruins president Cam Neely. Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

This has been a tough month of pro athletes/coach behaving badly off the field. And then the Boston Bruins added the exclamation point.

With the likes of Joshua Primo, Kyrie Irving and Ime Udoka making headlines, Bruins GM Don Sweeney and team president Cam Neely tried to sneak the “signed Mitchell Miller to an entry level contract” announcement during the Friday afternoon news dump.

As we know, Miller spent several years bullying, harassing and assaulting Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a black child with developmental disabilities. It included repeated use of racial slurs, beating Meyer-Crothers up repeatedly and tricked his victim to lick a candy push pop after it was wiped in a bathroom urinal.

Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violating the Ohio Safe School act.

Sweeney and Neely were OK with adding a person like this to the Bruins organization? Did the Jim Montgomery hiring and best record in the league go to their heads to think they could do whatever they want?

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The hubris displayed by the Boston Bruins front office is very disappointing and embarrassing.

In the press release, Miller said he apologized to his victim for that incident. But it wasn’t an incident. It was years of physical and mental abuse. And Miller’s apology was court ordered and turned into the court. Miller isn’t sorry. He’s sorry that his hockey career is in jeopardy.

Sweeney and Neely said the Bruins researched Miller. That research did not include consulting with the NHL or contacting the victim or the victim’s family. But hey, Mitchell’s great at hockey!

72 hours after the signing, Neely announced that the Bruins released Miller from his contract based on new information. That information might had been new to the Bruins, but it wasn’t new. Anyone could had found out more details with a simple search online.

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There were a couple of times the New England Patriots acquired players I didn’t want due to poor character. The first was Albert Haynesworth. The other was Antonio Brown. Both proved very quickly why they didn’t belong in the Patriots culture.

Miller would be a third because he’s shown little to no remorse for his actions until it affected his opportunity to play in the NHL. I understand Sweeney and Neely believe in second chances, but Miller has to be genuinely sorry for what he did, had personally apologized to the Meyer-Crothers family personally (an apology via Snapchat isn’t good enough) and spent the time since the Arizona Coyotes renounced his rights working on becoming a better person to deserve a second chance.

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According to Eustace King, Miller’s agent, Miller has been working on his character. If true, then Miller is on the right path. But if this volunteering is court-mandated, then King’s statement is nothing more than a public relations press release.

Sweeney and Neely signing Miller made them just like all the enablers in Miller’s young life that looked the other way because Miller was good at hockey. That includes Miller’s parents, his coaches, and the school(s) that did nothing despite numerous reports of Miller terrorizing Meyer-Crothers. In this case, it took a village to cultivate this bully.

"“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a monster.” – Joni Meyer-Crothers, mother of Isaian Meyer Crothers, to NBC 10 Boston"

The worst part about the signing is the Bruins don’t need Miller. On the ice Boston has the NHL’s best record at 10-2 and look like Stanley Cup contenders. Soon they will have an excellent top pairing of Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm. Both are under contract through the 2029-30 season. They have a solid second paring of Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk for at least two more seasons.

They have two defensemen in their top-10 prospects. And there’s probably a player or two in Providence knocking on the TD Garden door.

But Sweeney and Neely couldn’t help themselves. They must be feeling confident because it seems like they finally made a few good draft selections and the recent RFA additions look solid. Maybe they thought they could do no wrong.

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It took a lot of gall to sneak this transaction under the cover of the NBA’s recent controversies. Many Bruins fans were outraged by the signing, and rightfully so. Fans also feel betrayed by Sweeney and Neely for suspending their gatekeeping of the Boston Bruins organization for Miller.

Sweeney and Neely believe in second chances. Even in more extreme situations, I can get on board with it. But it must be earned.

If Miller volunteers to participate in the programs the Bruins planned for him without any promise of a contract, and Miller gives a formal apology to the Meyer-Crothers family, then I would be willing to give Miller an opportunity for a hockey career.

But right now is an absolute no. Not this version of Miller. Neely admitted on Monday the Bruins didn’t do a thorough vetting of Miller. That’s inexcusable on the Boston Bruins part. The blame for this gross oversight goes right to the top with Sweeney and Neely. They should had known better.