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Haggs: Bettman Lambasting Bruins Latest Turn In Miller Fiasco

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The Boston Bruins have been waylaid by their fan base and the hockey public in general for signing 20-year-old defenseman Mitchell Miller this week despite his reprehensible past targeting and bullying a disabled black classmate while still a schoolboy, and now the NHL is getting in line to lay the smack down on the Black and Gold as well.

Mitchell was convicted in juvenile court of bullying and abusing a classmate when he was 14-years old. Miller, 20, 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.

According to reports, Mitchell Miller never apologized to Meyer-Crothers until recent weeks via an Instagram message as he was nearing signing an entry-level contract with a handful of NHL teams in the running for his services.

Despite the Bruins assuring they did their due diligence about a young defenseman that was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes, who then renounced the rights to him after the firestorm of criticism, it was learned on Saturday that they didn’t consult the league before the signing after not bothering to contact the family of the child bullied by Miller in the first place.

“I can’t categorically tell you this is the absolute right decision,” said Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “This is an opportunity that we’re providing for a young man who is going to work to continue to earn trust and respect, as each and every one of us do every day. My own personal judgment on this wasn’t the final say. It was just part of the equation. But having spent time with him and having a clear understanding of the direction he’d like to take his life in, I felt that if other teams were going to be willing to give him — I’m not going to speak for other teams — a chance, I think we all have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Why wouldn’t we be willing to give him a chance?’

“I’ve also come to the understanding that I don’t think forgiveness is part of this, because if that had happened to one of my own children, I can’t categorically say that I would have (forgiven). But I also would applaud somebody that if you were willing to welcome somebody back for a second chance, you’ve got to walk that walk.”

It all feels like the organization went into this without truly thinking about the ramifications at all levels for a hockey team that was cruising through the first few months of the season, and the fans were almost uniformly pissed off about it.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman assured that the young prospect wouldn’t be playing in the NHL anytime soon, and would need to be cleared by the league after checking all kinds of boxes in terms of redemption, accountability and remorse for his inexcusable past actions as a teenager.

“What I understand and have heard through the media, what he did as a 14-year-old is reprehensible, unacceptable. Before the Bruins made the decision to sign him, we were not consulted. I happened to talk to (Bruins president) Cam Neely since the time he was signed. He’s not coming into the NHL,” said Bettman on Saturday to assembled media. “He’s not eligible at this point to come into the NHL. I can’t tell you that he’ll ever be eligible to come 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 close to that point, we’re going to have to clear him and his eligibility. It will be based on all the information that we get firsthand at the time.

“So the answer is that they were free to sign him to play somewhere else, that’s another league’s issue. But nobody should think at this point he is, or may ever be, NHL-eligible and the Boston Bruins understand that now.”

So what would Bettman have to see in order to clear the 20-year-old Miller given his truly troubled past?

“I would need to see a whole bunch of things and understand a lot more firsthand than I do now anecdotally,” said Bettman.

This all comes a day after Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney addressed the media and admitted that he wasn’t sure at all signing Miller was the right thing to do, despite his 83 points (39 goals, 44 assists) in 60 games for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL last season that qualify him as a player with a potential NHL career in front of him.

“Personally, this has been a struggle over what is right and what is wrong, and I can’t categorically tell you that this is the absolute right decision,” said Sweeney. “This is an opportunity that we’re providing for a young man who is going to continue to work to earn trust and respect as each and every one of us do every day. My own personal judgment on this wasn’t the final say. It was just part of the equation of having spent time with him and having a clear understanding of the direction that he would like to take his life in. I felt that if other teams were willing to give him a chance … I think we all have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Why wouldn’t we be willing to give him a chance?’ I’ve also come to the understanding that I don’t think forgiveness is part of this, because if this happened to one of my own children, I can’t categorically say that I would have. But I also would applaud someone that if they’re willing to welcome someone back for a second chance. And you’ve got to walk that walk.”

Boston Bruins players were also at a bit of a loss at the entire situation as captain Patrice Bergeron told Elliotte Friedman he was “on the fence” about the situation while admitting the signing flies in the face of so many of their organizational themes.

It makes one wonder why the Boston Bruins decided to do this in the first place. It’s true that the B’s have one of the worst-ranked prospect pools in the NHL and they don’t have anybody in their system like the offensively gifted Miller on the back end, but it feels like no prospect is worth the mud that the proud Black and Gold are now being dragged through by literally everybody.

 

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Todd

The worst thing is we didn’t need to do this. We have four good d-men in Providence who played pretty darn well in the preseason: Jack Ahcan, Connor Carrick, Michael Callahan and Nick Wolff .

Kevin L

This is just a few facts of this monster’s behavior — which, by the way, was only a few years ago! Neely & Sweeney keep repeating “What he did in 8th grade”. THAT’S A LIE. This guy tortured the kid throughout Junior High School. The victim’s mother says: “He told our son that his Black mom and dad didn’t love him, that’s why he had white parents,” Joni Meyer-Crothers said. “On a daily basis, was called the N-word. [Miller] would ask Isaiah to sit with him on the bus, and as soon as Isaiah would sit with him, him and… Read more »

Scott Bensink

So Kevin, have you done anything you regret from junior high?

No 2nd chance for anyone correct?

Jimmy Murphy

Even if Kevin did, what’s your point here. Miller did it as a senior at 18 yrs old.

Martin

What about Craig McTavish, he was in nhl after what he did, no one complained?

Jimmy Murphy

He served time in jail, paid millions in restitution and did years of community service. Also hasn’t had a drop of booze since the accident. Remind again what Miller has done to make up for what he did? Oh, that’s right nothing. So kindly piss off with your immature whataboutism!

David

Bettman just did the Bruins a huge favor. If Bruins management is smart, they’ll shut up, move on, and hope that every fan will soon forget this sordid episode.

Mark David Waddock

Since when do 18 year olds attend Junior High School? Or do faux journalists just make up facts?

Jimmy Murphy

He started the abuse in second grade, was convicted at 16 in high school and continued for two years after that. Those are facts. Sorry they don’t fit your agenda but only one making anything up are those like you.

Mac Echo

Agenda, huh? Perfect word for leftist media pushing this story. I love how these “reports” are usually never verified. We’ll just take your race baiting word on it. If you’re being honest, truly, can you tell me this would be a story if the victim had been white and the player black? Go ahead, spin away. The truth is irrelevant in politics, right? Look, I feel horrible for the kid and his family. The player was wrong. But stop with this kangaroo court, crap. Give him the chance to repent. You’re not God, despite what you may believe. People make… Read more »

Kevin L

I really hope you are not a voter… even worse, a father.

BBBob

Another fine example of someone chucking boulders around in their comment while attempting to use the “cast the first stone” line. How can people be this unaware of themselves?

William Mahoney

The
Brui9ns versus the boys from NY lose every time! No matter how much that 14 yeqr old appologizes! Give up and move on.

serge

I have been a bruins fan for 50yrs and have seen some really bad management decisions but this has got to be the worst on so many different levels. Sweeney and neeley need to go.

Wayne

If wasn’t black we would of never heard about this…14 years old. For the love of christ

Jimmy Murphy

Tell us you’re a racist without saying it.

Glenn

Is that all you can say….calling someone a racist? Calling someone that without proof can get you sued, and quickly….careful

Jimmy Murphy

LOL! Get a clue

Jessy Morris

Why would anyone need to be careful for speaking truth? Also it Black! You ignorance should be an excuse for your racism.

SEAN

I’m a racist

EdV

If you really believe this decision is as bad as you say, you should publicly call for the firing of those who made it — Sweeney and Neely. Demand it in writing in your column. The only ones I’ve seen call for their firing are fans. Writers seem to know which side their bread is buttered on and won’t call for it, which makes them cowards. All while acting outraged. If you have called for Sweeney and Neely to be fired over this egregious decision, of course I apologize. But I haven’t seen a single Boston writer lay the blame… Read more »

Jimmy Murphy

Patience my dear Watson. It’s coming

Glenn

Not saying what he did is excusable, but remember that players in the NHL have killed people while drunk. How about assaults? I forget, what happened to those players? So being all high and mighty about a youth making very poor decisions….adults making poor decisions is quite alright? Gotchya

Me

What a bunch of phony hypocrites! I love how the nhl jumps all over this kid, and I can honestly say I do t knowall the facts here. What I do know is the nhl backs BLM, an organization that burns down businesses and neighborhoods of innocent people, and oh yeah, attacks with clubs anyone on the street who speaks “words” they don’t like. Nhl also celebrates the rapper Drake on the Nhl network. Is there a more misogynistic, woman hating piece of garbage anywhere? Crickets from the Nhl and our boy Jimmy here. You should go to work for… Read more »

Jimmy Murphy

Right here bud. Laughing at your racist pathetic soul

BBBob

Imagine typing “I can honestly say I don’t know all the facts here” and then going on a rant about BLM, Drake, ESPN and safe spaces. If you don’t have all of the facts, it seems like your real issue here isn’t with what Jimmy wrote or what happened with the Miller kid. I wonder what it could be……

Kevin L

This Just In: Neely was forced to release an “apology”. Not written by him of course. Anyway… Let’s be really clear here, this entire signing of Miller — the display of ignorance and pathetic behavior in the name of the Boston Bruins — was entirely Cam Neely’s doing while his enablers more or less stood back sort of quietly. Not many of us could ever imagine Neely as GM material, and now (after this disgusting debacle and the mishandling of Cassidy’s ousting) Neely has confirmed at least my perception of him in the Front Office. Resign you Tool !! Despite… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by Kevin L
SEAN

Give the kid a shot.

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