Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said the signing of prospect Mitchell Miller was his biggest regret as an NHL executive and admitted that the team failed in their vetting process, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.
“I’m extremely upset that we have made a lot of people unhappy with our decision,” Neely said on Monday. “I take a lot of pride in the Bruins organization and what we stand for, and we failed there.”
The Bruins signed Miller, 20, on Friday to an entry-level contract with intentions of sending the young defenseman to AHL Providence, however they announced on Sunday night that they were parting ways with Miller following intense backlash from fans, players, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman who said on Saturday: “I can’t tell you that he’ll ever be eligible to come into the NHL.
Miller was a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020 but the team relinquished his draft rights following a story that was published about how he and another middle school classmate were convicted in juvenile court in 2016 of assaulting and bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black classmate with developmental disabilities. The report included Meyer-Crothers’ mother’s allegations that Miller began abusing her son in second grade and repeatedly used racial slurs.
The Bruins said Sunday that they decided to cut ties with him “based on new information.”
Neely said the fact that the Bruins never reached out to the family of Meyer-Crothers “was concerning to me” and that it was “absolutely” a problem with the team’s vetting process.
“We like to take pride in what we do in the community and we hold ourselves accountable,” Neely said, adding that he plans to reach out to the family of Meyer-Crothers. “We dropped the ball, and I’m here to apologize.
“I’ll say it again: I want to apologize to Isaiah and his family. It’s something that they shouldn’t continue to go through.”
“From everything I’ve heard, he was working on himself, working in programs to better himself,” Neely said. “I was under the impression it was a 14-year-old kid who made a really, really bad decision and did some horrible things, and he’s 20 years old now. I was under the impression that he, in the last six years, had done a lot of work on himself.”
“From what I gather, [NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly] said that Mitchell would have to get in front of Gary Bettman if he was going to play in the NHL,” Neely said.
“The timing of it was never probably going to be good,” Neely said. “I think it got down to the point of [whether] we’re doing it or not. And we made the wrong decision.”