Bruins part ways with Mitchell Miller, citing ‘new information’ and apologize to Isaiah Meyer-Crothers
The signing, which immediately sparked a firestorm among many fans and members of the media, was eventually called off by Neely, who struck a contrite tone in the press release.
“Based on the new information, we believe it is the best decision at this time to terminate Mitchell Miller’s opportunity to represent the Boston Bruins,” Neely was quoted as saying. “We look forward to continuing to work with professionals and programs to enhance your training and personal growth.
“We owe it to our fans, players, staff, partners and community to ensure our practices and protocols are in line with the ethos we demand of ourselves and as an organisation. As such, we will re-evaluate our internal processes to screen individuals who wish to earn the privilege of playing in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins.”
The statement did not specify the nature of the new information. Neely will be available to the media at 9.15am on Monday at the club’s training facility in Brighton.
The statement did not say whether Sweeney, who was the lead representative in announcing the signing on Friday, would also meet with the media.
Miller was released by the Coyotes shortly after reporting to Arizona detailing his troubled past as a teenager, pleading guilty to charges related to hazing a black classmate, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, in Ohio.
“We regret that this decision has overshadowed the incredible work members of our organization do to support diversity and inclusion efforts,” Neely added in the statement. “We will continue to fight against bullying and racism in all its forms.
“To Isaiah and his family, my deepest apologies if this signing made you and other victims feel invisible and unheard. We apologize for the deep hurt and impact we have caused.”
In signing Miller, Sweeney talked about giving Miller a chance at redemption, while also expressing personal concerns, noting he wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do.
Not only did the episode overshadow the club’s stellar start (10-2-0) to the new season, leaving some veteran players on the roster openly struggling to understand why, but it made both Neely like Sweeney were seen as out of touch with the fan base, the media. and especially inept in how to frame such a controversial signing.
The deal had been in the works for at least a month. The Bruins conducted extensive interviews and evaluations of Miller. They left convinced that a second chance was worth it, along with the slings and arrows that would come their way.
However, when it came time to announce it to the public, they released a press release early Friday afternoon, then convened Sweeney’s zoom session with the media and a one-on-one session in Providence with Miller assigned to the Bruins of the AHL. , which had Mark Divver, a former Providence Journal writer, as the lone reporter asking questions.
The whole thing was a revealing and laughable snapshot of how to handle a sensitive and controversial case and how not to groom a child to revamp his crippled public image. It was a sloppy, amateur pitch that resulted in the continued pillorying of the management team, the Bruins brand as a whole and Miller.
On Sunday, hours before the Bruins pulled out of the deal, Miller’s agent took to social media to try to patch up the self-inflicted open wound.
“As a black man who has spent his entire life in hockey,” wrote the agent, Eustace King, “I understand the gravity of the situation and respect the emotions and fierce reactions to the initial reports and comments about the behavior past of Mr. Miller.”
King pushed for Miller to finally get what he called “restorative justice,” a way to get his name and career back, if not his life.
The public would have the last word in the coming days.
Sweeney and Neely needed a makeover of their own. They needed to provide everyone with a clear, concise, unhurried explanation of why they thought Miller was worth all the trouble, where they thought he could go with their franchise. It was necessary to bring all the people involved in the process to the table and let them talk, explain, educate.
He owed Miller little, but at least he was owed that.
The Bruins gave Willie O’Ree a chance when others wouldn’t, making him the first player of African descent to play in the NHL.
During the summer, Sweeney and Neely chose Jim Montgomery as their new coach, when others were afraid to give him a second chance because of his history with alcoholism.
It’s not a franchise that’s afraid to take a bold, even controversial, stance. But almost 100 years into its history, it proved over the weekend that it is in the dark ages when it comes to knowing its audience, the intelligence of its fans, the media, even his own veteran players, some of whom expressed dismay at the signing. .
The Bruins told us Friday that Mitchell Miller can do better. Two days later they said goodbye. Now they have to ask themselves better.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected].
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