BRUINS RELEASE MILLER, MASCO REACTS
By Kalvin Tragethon
The Boston Bruins are facing major backlash after the signing of former University of North Dakota defenseman Mitchell Miller.
Miller was picked up by the Bruins following his release from the Arizona Coyotes and his removal from the University of North Dakota hockey team after a major bullying incident came to life. The Bruins cut Miller earlier this month, only after getting major backlash from the signing.
“I think they should have thought about [the consequences] before they signed him,” said junior Nathaniel Cantalupo.
Bruins President Cam Neeley released a statement the same day as the twenty-year-old defenseman was cut. In the statement, Neeley said that “new information” inspired the Bruins to release Miller.
Miller was accused of assaulting classmate Isaiah Meyer-Crothers who he bullied starting at the age of fourteen. Meyer-Crothers is a Black teenager with developmental disabilities. Miller had used racist language and physical bullying, which included making Meyer-Crothers lick a piece of candy that had been rubbed in a urinal. Miller also used physical violence, as he and his friends would punch Meyer-Crothers in the face. Meyer-Crothers released a statement through the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
“I can’t take more of this,” Meyer-Crothers said at the end of his statement released on Twitter. Crothers had received disparaging messages on social media, both racist and abusive.
“The letter by [Meyer-Crothers] was shocking,” said junior Andrew Voner. “It really shows the diabolicalness of Miller’s actions. What's even worse is the fact that there are probably many other kids like [Meyer-Crothers] who have been getting bullied, and the person who is actually doing the bullying gets away without having to face any consequences.”
The Bruins, and their handling of the situation, outraged many fans of the team.
“I’m extremely upset that we have made a lot of people unhappy with our decision,” Neeley said in his interview the day after Miller’s release. He said that the Bruins were “under the impression that [Miller], in the last six years, had done a lot of work on himself.” Neeley went on to publicly apologize to Meyer-Crothers.
“It sounds like they exercised poor judgment in their so-called vetting process,” said history teacher and Bruins fan Christopher Fay. “You fine the team, you fine the executives, and leave it up to the ownership to say maybe the executives need to take two weeks suspension or a month suspension.”
In recent weeks, the National Hockey League (NHL) has made their stance on bullying clear. League Commissioner Gary Bettman said that Miller may not “ever be NHL eligible.”
Despite all of the negatives that have come out of this situation, there is also the potential for a positive result to the situation.
“[Revoking Miller’s NHL eligibility] gives me some hope because, hopefully, those who are getting bullied might feel a little more confident about coming out and talking about their situations,” Voner said.
Sports leagues across the board have also seen an improvement in punishments regarding issues in the personal lives of athletes.
“It’s become somewhat normal when a manager or a coach gets caught doing something wrong and then says ‘We didn’t do anything wrong.’ The league either punishes them in some way, financially or time wise, or the ownership does,” Fay said. “It's a private business, but it belongs to a collective of teams [when issues occur and] makes them all look bad.”
In recent days, the Bruins have hired former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate their player vetting process and they have pledged to publicly release the findings of the investigation. The NHL, despite their mistakes, can hopefully look forward to a positive change in the way that society deals with issues of bullying.