Bruins sign Mitchell Miller, defenseman convicted of racially aggravated harassment

The Boston Bruins announced Friday that they have signed defenseman Mitchell Miller, who was released by the Arizona Coyotes shortly after being drafted in 2020 after reports emerged of his conviction for harassing a black classmate with developmental disabilities when he was at 14 years old.

The Bruins’ news release announcing the signing of Miller to an entry-level contract led with a quote from Miller apologizing for the 2016 incident.

“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely bad decision and acted very immature,” Miller said. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and apologized to the person. After the incident, I began to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions, which I failed to realize and understand nearly seven years ago. I strive to be a better person and contribute positively to society.”

He added that as a member of the Bruins organization, he will continue to participate in community programs to educate himself and share his mistakes with others.

Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teenager were accused of forcing a 14-year-old to eat candy after wiping it on a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.

The victim told the Arizona Republic in 2020 that he was stunned and saddened when he found out the Coyotes had drafted Miller, who he says taunted him with racist language and repeatedly hit him while they were growing up in suburban Toledo.

“It hurts my heart to be honest,” he told the newspaper. “It’s stupid that (the Coyotes) didn’t go back and see what happened in the past, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Miller sent a letter to every NHL team before the draft acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behavior. The victim’s mother said Miller never apologized to him or their family in person, other than a court-ordered letter.

“To be clear, what I did when I was 14 years old was wrong and unacceptable,” Miller said in his statement. “There is no place in this world for disrespecting others and I promise to use this opportunity to speak out against mistreatment of others.”

Miller’s comments in Friday’s news release were immediately followed by a statement from Bruins president Cam Neely, who said the team’s hockey operations and community relations groups spent time with the player in recent weeks before signing him, “ to better understand who he is as an individual and learn more about a significant mistake he made when he was in middle school.”

Neely said Miller is responsible for his past behavior and has demonstrated his commitment to working to continue his education “and to use his mistake as a teaching moment for others.”

“Representing the Boston Bruins is a privilege that we take seriously as an organization,” Neely said. “Respect and integrity are foundational character traits we expect from our players and staff. . . . The expectation is that he will continue this important educational work with personal development and community programs as a member of the Bruins organization.”

After being released by the Coyotes, the 20-year-old Miller played in the minors. He played 60 games with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League in 2021-22, recording 39 goals and 44 assists for a total of 83 points. He was named USHL Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year following the season.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was scheduled to answer questions about the signing on a Zoom call with the media at 1 p.m. Miller will report to the Providence Bruins and is expected to speak to the media after the team’s practice at 12 p.m. at Providence College .

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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