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A law firm that conducted an independent review of the Boston Bruins’ signing of defensive lineman Mitchell Miller did not see “abuse” in their review process, but suggested a number of changes in the way the organization researched potential players.
Per Mark Lazerus and other staff members of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison’s law firm The Athletic conducted the review and recommended (among other items) that the team establish clear written policies for the review of off-ice behavior. create central documents that monitor a player’s potential red flags and off-ice concerns.
According to ESPN’s Kristen Shilton, CEO Charlie Jacobs said in a statement that the team will implement all recommendations immediately.
The review, led by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, revealed “gaps in the club’s review procedures that create difficulties when faced with a recruit with significant red flags, such as here.”
The Bruins have signed Miller to a three-year, $2.6 million entry-level contract, despite public concerns about reported harassment, abuse, and racist acts against Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black classmate with a developmental disability.
These reports came to light shortly after the Arizona Coyotes selected Miller with the 111th pick in the 2020 audition. Craig Harris and José M. Romero Arizona Republic He detailed the actions in an article dated October 26, 2020:
“Four years ago, Miller admitted in a juvenile court in Ohio that he bullied Meyer-Crothers, who was tricked into licking a pop candy that Miller and another boy had wiped on the bathroom urinal. Meyer-Crothers had to be tested for hepatitis, HIV.” and sexually transmitted diseases, but tests came back negative, according to a police report.
Meyer-Crothers, who is also 18 and now lives in Detroit, said he had mocked her for years by calling her ‘brownie’ and the ‘N-word’ while growing up in Miller’s suburb of Toledo and hitting her multiple times. He confirmed repeatedly using the ‘N-word’ when referring to Meyer-Crothers.”
Three days later, Arizona gave up her draft rights, and the University of North Dakota hockey team also removed her from the program.
Despite the report, the Bruins signed a deal with Miller on November 4 and announced that the team would report to the AHL member in Providence.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, however, said Miller was ineligible for the NHL.
“If at some point they actually think they want him to play in the NHL and I’m not sure they’re close to that point, we’re going to have to clear him and his eligibility, and that’s going to be based on all the first hand information we had at the time,” Bettman told reporters.
Isaiah’s mother, Joni Meyer-Crothers, also spoke with NBC10 Boston after B’s Miller signed a deal.
“I think he’s a monster,” he said in part.
The Bruins did not reach the Meyer-Crothers family before signing Miller.
Two days after the Miller deal was announced, the Bruins parted ways with the defender.
Team president Cam Neely said in part, “Based on the new information, we believe it is the best decision at the moment to cancel Mitchell Miller’s opportunity to represent the Boston Bruins.”
“We hope he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal development.”
As Shilton points out, Miller is technically still under contract with the Bruins. According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the team’s options include paying Miller to stay at home for the entire 2022-23 season and buying him at the end of the year for one-third of his NHL salary. The team may also negotiate a deal with Miller and the NHLPA that would allow him to be a free agent.