NHL Commissioner Gary Pittman said Saturday that the Boston Bruins had not consulted with the league before signing Mitchell Miller and that he would “need to see a whole bunch of things” going forward.
Bettman’s comments came a day after the Bruins announced they had signed Miller, a potential defenseman, for a junior contract. Miller was a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Wolf in 2020 until his draft rights were relinquished after a story was published about how he and another classmate were convicted of assaulting and bullying a developmentally disabled black classmate.
The report revealed how Miller, now 20, and another middle school classmate were convicted in juvenile court in 2016 for racial abuse and bullying of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. In the report, Meyer Crothers’ mother alleged that Miller began abusing her son in second grade and repeatedly used racial insults.
Buttman said what he heard through anecdotal evidence and understood through media reports about what Miller did was “reprehensible and unacceptable”. He said the Bruins had not consulted the league but had since spoken with team boss Cam Neely.
“He hasn’t entered the NHL, he’s ineligible at this point to get into the NHL,” Bettman said. “I can’t tell you that he will ever be eligible to get into the NHL. If at some point they think they want him to play in the NHL – and I’m not sure they’re anywhere near that point – we will have to clear him and clear him and it will be based on all the information we get directly at that time.”
Bettman said the Bruins are free to sign Miller to play elsewhere, referring to the fact that Miller was sent to play for AHL’s Bruins, Providence Bruins. But he then added that “nobody should at this point think he or she ever qualified and the Bruins understand that now.”
“The culture we’ve built here goes against this kind of behaviour,” Bergeron told reporters. “We’re a team built on characters and character. What he did is unacceptable, and we don’t stick with it. In this locker room, we’re all talking about inclusion, diversity and respect. Those are the keywords and core values we have.”
“We expect men to wear this shirt to be high-ranking people with integrity and respect. Hopefully, there will be growth and change.”
Bergeron said that if Miller was the same 14-year-old who harassed Meyer Croothers, he “would not be accepted, wanted, and welcomed.” He said the Bruins’ culture would not change and that the changes were “from the individual.”
Foligno said it was “hard” for the team to hear after learning that the Bruins had signed Miller.
“I won’t lie to you,” Foligno said. “I don’t think anyone has been very happy with how proud we are to say that this is a group that cares so much about ourselves and how we carry ourselves and how we treat people.”
Montgomery, who is in his first season with the team, said he did not know Miller but added that what he did was a “hate act” and that it was up to Miller to show everyone he was doing the right things moving forward.
ESPN’s Kristen Shelton contributed to this report
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