Bruins sign player convicted of assault on Black classmate

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins have signed defenseman Mitchell Miller, who had his draft rights relinquished by Arizona for bullying a Black classmate with developmental disabilities in middle school.

The Bruins signed Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday after spending several weeks during an evaluation period with the 20-year-old. Miller said he would continue to participate in community programs to educate himself and share his mistakes with others.

“Representing the Boston Bruins is a privilege we take seriously as an organization,” Bruins general manager Cam Neely said in a statement. “During this evaluation period, Mitchell was accountable for his unacceptable behavior and demonstrated his commitment to work with multiple organizations and professionals to further his education and use his mistake as a teachable moment for others.”

The Coyotes picked Miller in the fourth round of the 2020 draft despite knowing of his 2016 assault conviction. The team parted ways with Miller amid criticism after learning more about his bullying of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers.

The University of North Dakota announced a day later that Miller was no longer with the school's hockey team.

Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teenager were accused of making Meyer-Crothers eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.

Meyer-Crothers' mother Joni told The Arizona Republic that Miller started bullying her son in second grade and used racial epithets.

Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behavior. Joni Meyer-Crothers’ said Miller never personally apologized to Isaiah or their family other than a court-mandated letter.

“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in a statement. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago."

Miller sat out the 2020-21 season before scoring 39 goals with 44 assists for Tri-City of the USHL in 2021-22. He was named the USHL’s player and defenseman of the year after setting league records for goals and points by a defenseman.

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