Boston Bruins president Cam Neely apologized and said the team “failed” by signing prospect Mitchell Miller.
The National Hockey League (NHL) deemed Miller ineligible to join the team due to a bullying incident the player participated in when he was a teenager. Boston signed Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday, then rescinded it on Sunday.
“I’m extremely upset that we have made a lot of people unhappy with our decision,” Neely said at a Monday news conference. “I take pride in the Bruins organization and what we stand for, and we failed there.
“We like to take pride in what we do in the community and we hold ourselves accountable,” Neely said. “We dropped the ball and I’m here to apologize for that.”
Miller was convicted at 14 years old of a bullying incident in which he and another teenager were accused of tricking Black classmate Isaiah Meyers-Crothers into eating candy that had been placed in a urinal, a report from The Arizona Republic revealed.
Miller and another teen admitted to the bullying in an Ohio juvenile court and were sentenced to community service, according to The Republic.
Neely also apologized to Meyers-Crothers and his family.
“I’ll say it again. I want to apologize to Isaiah and his family,” Neely said. “It’s something that they shouldn’t continue to go through.”
CNN reached out to Miller’s representatives, 02K Management, but they weren’t immediately available for a response.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, Eustace King, Miller’s agent, said: “The decision to take on Mitchell Miller as a client was not one that 02K Sports Management made lightly.
“As one of the very few Black NHL agents in the league, a member of the NHL’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and as a Black man who has spent his entire life in hockey, I understand the gravity of the situation and respect the fierce emotions and reactions to the initial reporting and commentary around Mr. Miller’s past behavior.
O2K Sports Management would not have agreed to represent Mitchell without months of research, deliberation, introspection within our organization, and conversations with outside advisors.
“Moreover, when deliberating whether to represent Mitchell, we learned throughout the last six years, Mitchell has been volunteering with organizations such as: Spread the Word Campaign, Little Miracles, Adaptive Sports of Ohio, Gliding Stars.”
The Bruins have said they knew about Miller’s conviction but offered a contract because the team thought the bullying was “an isolated incident and that he had taken meaningful action to reform. …”
Miller was let go based on new information, Neely said Sunday. When asked Monday what the new information was, Neely said: “The fact we didn’t talk to the family was concerning to me.”
Neely said he plans on reaching out to the family.
When asked why the organization didn’t reach out to the family before the signing, Neely responded: “It’s a great question. Something I need to find out.”
Neely also addressed why the team decided to sign Miller.
“The timing was never, probably going to be good,” he said. “It got down to the point, are we doing it or not, and we made the wrong decision.
“I do believe in second chances but maybe some don’t deserve it. I’m not saying it in particular in this situation, but I do believe in second chances.”
“From everything I’ve heard, he was working on himself, working in programs to better himself,” Neely said. “I was under the impression it was a 14-year-old kid who made a really, really bad decision and did some horrible things, and he’s 20 years old now. I was under the impression that he, in the last six years, had done a lot of work on himself.”
Neely said he didn’t talk to Miller on the team’s decision to let him go.