Mitchell Miller, a prospect whose draft rights were relinquished after it publicly surfaced that he and a classmate were convicted of assaulting and bullying a developmentally disabled classmate, signed an entry-level contract Friday with the Boston Bruins.
The 20-year-old defenseman was a fourth-round selection of the Arizona Coyotes in 2020. Shortly after he was drafted, however, a report by the Arizona Republic detailed how Miller and another middle school classmate were convicted in juvenile court in 2016 of racially abusing and bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, who is Black.
In the report, Meyer-Crothers' mother alleged that Miller started abusing her son in second grade while also using repeated racial epithets.
"When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely," Miller said in a statement released by the Bruins on Friday. "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."
"... To be clear, what I did when I was 14 years old was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world for being disrespectful to others and I pledge to use this opportunity to speak out against mistreating others."
In his statement, Miller said he will continue to participate in community programs to educate himself and share "my mistakes with others to show what a negative impact those actions can have on others."
Bruins president Cam Neely said the team's hockey operations department and community relations group spent time with Miller over the past few weeks to "better understand" who he is as an individual and "learn more about a significant mistake he made when he was in middle school."
"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," Neely said in the statement. "The expectation is that he will continue this important educational work with personal development and community programs as a member of the Bruins organization."
NHL Central Scouting ranked Miller as the No. 49 North American skater in its final pre-draft rankings, however he slid to the fourth round as teams knew about his past.
Days after the Coyotes drafted Miller, the team said in a statement that "it would have been easy" to dismiss him like other teams did, but "we felt it was our responsibility to be a part of the solution in a real way -- not just saying and doing the right things ourselves but ensuring that others are too."
The Coyotes have the NHL's first Latino owner in Alex Meruelo and the league's first Latino CEO and president in Xavier Gutierrez.
Miller ultimately had his draft rights relinquished by the Coyotes less than a month later. He was also released from his scholarship at the University of North Dakota, where Miller was enrolled as a freshman.
He sat out the 2020-21 season before returning to play with the USHL's Tri-City Storm during 2021-22. Miller was named the USHL's Defenseman of the Year and Player of the Year after finishing tied for the league lead with 39 goals while also having 83 points -- both single-season league records for a defenseman -- in 60 games.