National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman announced that a player signed by the Boston Bruins is ineligible because he racially abused a Black classmate who had a developmental disability, reports the New York Times.
At age 14, Mitchell Miller plead guilty in court to bullying Isiah Meyer-Crothers while using racial epithets. He and another teenager were accused of tricking Meyers-Crothers into eating candy that had been placed in a urinal, according to a report from the Arizona Republic. Surveillance footage also showed them kicking and punching Meyers-Crothers.
In a statement, Bettman said that Miller has no place in the NHL because of his past racist acts.
“What I understand and have heard through the media, what he did as a 14-year-old is reprehensible, unacceptable,” Bettman said. “They were free to sign him to play somewhere else, that’s another league’s issue. But nobody should think, at this point he is, or may ever be, N.H.L. eligible. And the Bruins understand that now.”
Cam Neely, president of the Boston Bruins, noted that the team thoroughly investigated Miller's background and believed “that at 14-years-old he made a poor decision that led to a juvenile conviction.”
“We understood this to be an isolated incident and that he had taken meaningful action to reform and was committed to ongoing personal development. Based on that understanding we offered him a contract,” Neely said.
Following the discovery of new information about the incident that the team didn't disclose, Neely rescinded his offer to Miller.
“We hope that he continues to work with professionals and programs to further his education and personal growth,” Neely said.
Neely also apologized on behalf of the Bruins to the Meyers-Crothers family and those affected by the team’s attempt to sign Miller.
“To Isaiah and his family, my deepest apologies if this signing made you and other victims feel unseen and unheard. We apologize for the deep hurt and impact we have caused,” Neely said. “We will continue to stand against bullying and racism in all of its forms.”
“Finally, as a father, I think there is a lesson to be learned here for other young people,” he added. “Be mindful of careless behaviors and going with the group mentality of hurting others. The repercussions can be felt for a lifetime.”
Nick Foligno, a veteran forward of the Bruins, agreed with Bettman's ruling,
“It’s not something anyone in this room stands for,” Foligno told reporters on Saturday. “The culture we’ve built and these guys have built before I got here is one of inclusion. I think it goes against that. It’s hard for us to swallow.”
Before Miller was drafted in 2020, he apologized to the NHL for the incident but not to Meyer-Crothers. According to the Bruins, he did not apologize to Meyer-Crothers until after they asked him to. His apology was posted on social media but not given in person.
Joni Meyer-Crothers. Isaiah’s mother said that the other person involved in the incident made an emotional apology in person.
On Friday, Miller apologized again for the incident but not to Meyer-Crothers.
“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” the statement said. “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.”