Think back to when you were younger, say 14-years old.
Think about the stupid things you did back then. Some of those things worse than other things you did.
You’ve changed since, right?
You’ve grown up?
You’ve learned from those mistakes and made yourself better?
And in some cases, you used your experiences in those situations to help others who are going through a similar situation.
Or even better, you’re one of many trying to help prevent it happening to others.
I am a big believer in second chances, especially for those who did something wrong when they were younger and now, an adult, trying to make better with their lives.
In my opinion however, second chances should be earned, not given.
Based off of what we do know and what we don’t know, Mitchell Miller has not earned that second chance.
In the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Arizona Coyotes used their selection to select Miller, a very talented defenseman out of the USHL.
Shortly thereafter, the Coyotes renounced their pick of Miller after a bullying incident had been brought to light.
Miller was charged with assault in 2016 after he and another student admitted to bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a black classmate with a learning disability.
This was an incident that went on for years, with Miller often referring to Meyer-Crothers as “brownie,” or using the “n-word”
. The bullying went so far as Miller and another student forcing Meyer-Crothers to consume candy that was previously wiped in a urinal.
Miller did not return to hockey in 2020-21 before playing in 60 games with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL last year. At the time the incident came out, Miller was attending the University of North Dakota. The school eventually revoked his scholarship and he never appeared in a single game for the program.
On Friday, the Bruins made the very controversial decision to sign Miller to an entry-level contract.
“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely. 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. I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society,” Miller said in a team released statement Friday.
“As a member of the Bruins organization, I will continue to participate in community programs to both educate myself and share my mistakes with others to show what a negative impact those actions can have on others. 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.”
General manager Don Sweeney addressed the media Friday and only added fuel to the fire, making you question more than you probably already were, why the Bruins decided to sign the controversial defenseman.
“Personally, this has been a struggle over what is right and what is wrong and I can’t categorically tell you that this is the absolute right decision,” Sweeney said.
As a general manager in the National Hockey League, sure, you don’t know if every move you make is the right decision. You certainly have to take risks. Not being sure if you’re making the right decision trading a first-round pick for a rental forward is a heck of a lot different than signing a player like Miller that carries the type of baggage he does.
The biggest issue for me goes back to second chances and earning them. Maybe you feel differently and that’s fine, you’re entitled to that.
In my mind, for Miller to earn himself a second chance, it starts with an apology and goes deeper than that. At the time Miller was drafted and later renounced, the family of Meyer-Crothers had felt an appropriate apology was not given.
Even today with a new chapter of this ugly story being written, the family still feels as if a proper apology has not been given.
The Bruins organization has prided themselves on culture and doing things the right way. So why this?
Sweeney said that he spoke with the team’s leaders and admitted they had the same initial reaction that many across the hockey community have, “why?”
“I might have been the person who picked him at the airport when he arrived in Boston,” Sweeney said, “and I’ll be the first person to drive him to the airport if anything goes sideways.”
Sorry Sweeney, but this situation went sideways a long time before today’s mistake.
The NHL prides themselves on being behind the belief that “Hockey is for Everyone,” after today, “Hockey is for Everyone” takes on a whole new meaning.
Sweeney also admitted that had Meyers-Crother been his own son, he’s unsure if he could forgive Miller himself.
But since Meyers-Crother is nothing but a stranger to him, one that doesn’t possess the type of hockey skills Miller does, signing Miller is okay.
Will an apology take back everything Miller did to Meyers-Crother? No
Will an apology heal the pain that the Meyers-Crother family went through during this difficult period? No
But man, an apology—and a real one—will at least be a step in the right direction and show that Miller maybe actually does “regret the incident,” and has “come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago.”
“I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society”, Miller said.
The Bruins organization should also strive to be better.