The Boston Bruins terminated their contract with Mitchell Miller on Sunday after the National Hockey League deemed him ineligible to join the team due to a bullying incident the player participated in when he was a young teenager.
The decision is effective immediately, just days after the Bruins signed Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday. The about-face comes after new information seemingly linked to bullying emerged, which at one point led to serious consequences when the player was in school.
Miller at 14 was convicted of a bullying incident where he and another teenager were accused of tricking their black classmate Isaiah Meyers-Crothers into eating candy that had been placed in a urinal, a revealed a report from the Arizona Republic.
Miller and another teenager admitted to the bullying in Ohio juvenile court and were sentenced to community service, according to the Republic.
Explaining the decision to sign the now 20-year-old Miller in the first place, Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said the team had carefully considered the facts as they knew them, “only to 14, he made a bad decision that led to a juvenile conviction.
“We understand that this was an isolated incident and that he has taken significant steps to reform himself and is committed to ongoing personal development. Based on that understanding, we offered him a contract,” Neely said.
After new information came to light, the team decided it was in their best interest to cancel the opportunity. The team’s statement did not detail this information.
“We hope he will continue to work with professionals and programs to continue his education and personal growth,” Neely said.
Neely also apologized to Meyers-Crothers and his family for signing on as well as to members of the organization, fans, partners and the community.
“To Isaiah and his family, my deepest apologies if this signing made you and other victims feel invisible and inaudible. We apologize for the deep hurt and impact we have caused,” Neely said. “We will continue to fight bullying and racism in all its forms.”
Neely added: “Finally, as a father, I think there is a lesson to be learned here for other young people. Be aware of negligent behavior and adopt the group mentality of hurting others. The repercussions can be felt for life. »
On Saturday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Bruins did not consult with the league before signing Miller, calling what Miller did “reprehensible” and “unacceptable.”
“He’s not coming to the NHL. He is currently ineligible to enter the NHL. I can’t tell you he’ll ever be eligible to get into the NHL,” Bettman said during a speech at the NHL World Series in Tampere, Finland.
“So the answer is they were free to sign him to play somewhere else, that’s a problem from another league, but nobody should think at this point that he is or could ever be eligible for the NHL. And the Bruins understand that now,” added Bettman.
The Arizona Coyotes drafted him in 2020, and the team later revoked his rights after the Republic report revealed the intimidation conviction.
CNN contacted Miller’s representation for comment and did not immediately respond.
When the Bruins initially signed Miller, the team provided a player statement in which he said, “When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely bad decision and acted very immature. ”
“I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the profound consequences of my actions that I did not acknowledge or understand nearly seven years,” he said. “To be clear, what I did when I was 14 was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world to be disrespectful to others and I pledge to take this opportunity to speak out against mistreating others.