BRIGHTON, MA – It seemed like the Mitchell Miller situation with the Boston Bruins was never going to come to any kind of a satisfactory ending, and so it was B’s President Cam Neely, hat in hand, apologizing to the fan base hours after the team had announced they had cut ties with the promising, troubled defenseman prospect.
Neely and the Boston Bruins released a statement late Sunday night referencing new information that had come to light spurring them to release the 20-year-old from his entry level contract. It was learned on Monday that Neely was referencing the team never contacting the family of Isiah Meyer-Crothers, who Miller was convicted of tormenting and bullying for years, as part of their due diligence.
The Bruins President alluded to possible penalties or punishment coming to the hockey ops department as a result of the embarrassing situation that’s damaged the Spoked B brand, and rightfully angered the fan base. Neely also spoke of calling the victim’s family to apologize personally for a situation that’s once again dragged their disabled child into the middle of a media circus that has cropped up multiple times over again because of Miller’s cruel bullying as a child.
“We like to take pride in what we do as a community and we hold ourselves accountable,” said Neely, who looked understandably upset at the situation while addressing the Boston Bruins media. “We dropped the ball and I’m here to apologize.
“The fact that we didn’t talk to the family was concerning to me. [Why we didn’t] is a great question and I plan on finding out. I want to apologize to Isiah and his family. This isn’t something that they should continue to go through.”
The Bruins have been under fire for the last four days after announcing that they had signed the 20-year-old Miller to an entry level contract. There’s no denying the former USHL defenseman is a talented pro prospect with top-level offensive defenseman ability, but his deplorable behavior as a teenager led to the Arizona Coyotes rescinding his draft rights, and the University of North Dakota cancelling a hockey scholarship.
Much of the information on the Miller situation had already been widely out there, so the greatest question for the Boston Bruins organization was why it happened in the first place. Neely referenced a meeting with Miller, his mother and his agent where he spoke at length about his behavior, his remorse and his pathway to possible redemption, and Neely’s own belief in second chances.
“From everything I heard he was working on himself and working on programs to better himself, and I was under the impression he was a 14-year-old kid that made a really, really bad decision…and did some horrible things,” said Neely, who said he does believe in ‘second chances’. “He’s 20 years old now, so I was under the impression that the last six years he’d been working on himself.
“There was a meeting I had with Mitchell, his mother and the agent. I felt that he was remorseful, and I felt that he had changed, and I felt that at that particular time that a second chance was warranted. We just didn’t have enough information. We could have dug deeper.”
But it clearly wasn’t the right time as veteran Boston Bruins players were outspoken in panning the move, and the B’s fan base spent days firing off angry emails and letters to the Boston Bruins that finally pushed them to sever ties with Miller.
This letter from a diehard Boston Bruins fan to the team this morning encapsulates a lot of what I’ve heard in my mentions from angry, upset and embarrassed Bruins followers. This has hit raw nerves with a lot of people https://t.co/AAqZ8hxfXR
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) November 5, 2022
“I’m extremely upset that we’ve made a lot of people unhappy with our decision,” said Neely. “I take pride in the Bruins organization and what we stand for, and we failed there.”
The overriding question remains why exactly the Boston Bruins were moved to sign Miller in the first place. The easy answer is that they have one of the worst-ranked prospect groups in the entire NHL and they don’t have a dynamic game-changing offensive defenseman like Miller within their ranks of young players.
But really, there isn’t a player in the entire league that’s worth the amount of trouble, controversy and fan anxiety that the Boston Bruins stirred up over the last few days for a B’s hockey club that was sailing through the early regular season.