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A law firm conducting an independent review into the Boston Bruins’ signing of defenseman Mitchell Miller found “no misconduct” in their vetting process but recommended a series of changes in the way the organization researches prospective players.
By Mark Laserus and other staff members of The Athletic, the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison conducted the review and recommended (among other items) that the team establish clear written policies for vetting off-ice conduct as well as create centralized documentation tracking a player’s potential red flags and off-ice concerns.
CEO Charlie Jacobs said in a statement that the team would implement all the recommendations immediately, per ESPN’s Kristen Shilton.
The review, which was led by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, found that there “were gaps in the club’s vetting procedures, which created challenges when faced, as here, with a recruit with significant red flags.”
The Bruins signed Miller to a three-year, $2.6 million entry-level contract despite publicized concerns about reported abuse, mistreatment and racist actions toward Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black classmate with developmental disabilities.
Those reports came to light soon after the Arizona Coyotes selected Miller with the No. 111 pick in the 2020 draft. Craig Harris and Jose M. Romero of the Arizona Republic detailed the actions in on Oct. 26, 2020, article:
“Four years ago, Miller admitted in an Ohio juvenile court to bullying Meyer-Crothers, who was tricked into licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal. Meyer-Crothers had to be tested for hepatitis, HIV and STDs, but the tests came back negative, according to a police report.
“Meyer-Crothers, also 18 and who now lives in Detroit, said Miller had taunted him for years, constantly calling him ‘brownie’ and the ‘N-word,’ while repeatedly hitting him while growing up in the Toledo suburb. Other students at their junior high confirmed to police that Miller repeatedly used the ‘N-word’ in referring to Meyer-Crothers.”
Despite the report, the Bruins inked Miller to a deal on Nov. 4 and revealed he would report to the team’s AHL affiliate in Providence.
However, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Miller wasn’t eligible for the NHL.
“If, in fact, at some point they think they want him to play in the NHL, and I’m not sure that they’re anywhere close to that point, we are going to have to clear him and his eligibility and it’ ll be based on all the information that we get first hand at the time,” Bettman told reporters.
Joni Meyer-Crothers, Isaiah’s mother, also spoke with NBC10 Boston after the B’s inked Miller to a deal.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a monster,” she said in part.
The Bruins notably did not reach out to the Meyer-Crothers family before signing Miller.
Two days after the Miller deal was announced, the Bruins part ways with the defenseman.
“Based on new information, we believe it is the best decision at this time to respind the opportunity for Mitchell Miller to represent the Boston Bruins,” team president Cam Neely said in part.
“We hope that he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal growth.”
As Shilton noted, Miller is still technically under contract with the Bruins. Per ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the team’s options include paying Miller to stay home for the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign and buying him out at the end of the year for one-third of his NHL salary. The team could also negotiate a settlement with Miller and the NHLPA, which would allow him to become a free agent.