Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron admitted that he was ‘on the fence’ when Bruins general manager Don Sweeney first came to him to get his input on whether or not the team should sign controversial defenseman Mitchell Miller.
“I was on the fence,” Bergeron told Elliotte Friedman in an interview that will air on Sportsnet during the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast of the Bruins-Maple Leafs game Saturday night. “As a person but also as a team, we stand for integrity and inclusion and diversity, obviously. That was the first thing that came out of my mouth, was that it goes against what we are as a culture and as a team. And for me as a person.”
The Bruins are, and likely will be under heavy scrutiny for the foreseeable future for signing Mitchell Miller, who after being drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the fourth round (111th overall), of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, eventually saw his rights get renounced his rights after story surfaced that he had been convicted in juvenile court of bullying and abusing a classmate when he was 14-years-old. Miller, 20 now, was found guilty of accusations that, starting in second grade, he and a classmate repeatedly bullied their disabled classmate Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, including using repeated racial slurs and physically demeaning him.
The Coyotes had come under immediate and heavy scrutiny after drafting Miller but it wasn’t until a series of letters from Meyer-Crothers’ mother Joni and eventually sitting down with and listening to her, did they make the decision to cut ties with Miller. Miller also lost a full scholarship to the University of North Dakota as a result of the stories that surfaced.
According to Bergeron, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, as he attempted to do with the media following the shocking signing on Friday, ultimately convinced Bergeron and his teammates that Miller is on the right path to redemption.
“I’ve been told lately that. …he’s working hard to make huh. …some changes to hopefully make those bad decisions in the past to help others. …huh. …not do that,” Bergeron said. “For me, I think the work is on him.”
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 5, 2022
You may or may not recall that, Bergeron, along with then Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, were both very vocal and active in promoting racial injustice awareness in the wake of the George Floyd murder in 2020.
“The murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, made me realize that by not speaking up on the matter, and not using my voice as a professional athlete, it’s in fact allowing racism to fester and continue. Silence is not an option for me anymore,” Bergeron, who made two separate donations to further awareness that summer, said back on July 28, 2020.
Recently retired Zdeno Chara, who was captain at the time, even marched with Black Lives Matter members.
“For the last 13 days, I have been sick about George Floyd’s murder,” Chara wrote in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder. “I have taken time to think and listen. Time to find bravery and time to try to find the right words, though I’ll admit I’m still struggling.”
Even Sweeney, who ultimately made the decision to sign Miller and stood by it on Friday, spoke out against racial injustice and supported players like former Boston Bruins forward Anson Carter and the Hockey Diversity Alliance two years ago.
“You know I was reading articles this morning on Anson Carter and a couple of the players I played with that getting involved. …you know Trevor Daley having a higher profile. …I applaud each and every player for their individual efforts and support them, they have the complete backing of the Boston Bruins” Sweeney said on June 12, 2020.
“If our players want to be more socially available to comment in that regard and voice their opinions and, in Zdeno Chara’s case, support a protest and march with people, I applaud their efforts. It’s a testament to their leadership, not as hockey players, but as human beings and family men and people that know that they have to listen and allow this to resonate.”