Sweeney and the Bruins were aware of the incident when Miller was first draft eligible in 2020.
They did not have Miller, who went to the Coyotes with the No. 111 pick, on their draft boards. They simply weren’t comfortable enough with the information – or lack thereof – they had on Miller and his past. (One would say that’s also to be expected from the team that was too scared to draft Mathew Barzal after he was ‘immature’ in his interview, and with core front office heads that felt Tyler Seguin partied too much.)
But the Bruins started to do their homework on Miller about a year ago, and things intensified from there.
Miller’s game also soared, as he manned the point for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL, and tallied 39 goals and 83 points in 60 games, and captured both the Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year honors for the USHL’s 2021-22 season.
“We just have a much better understanding, and we feel we’re in a position that when doors were slamming, that maybe we would allow one to open up,” Sweeney said of the talks with Miller over the last year. “And we felt as an organization we’d be strong enough to do that and hold him to the standard that we put forth in our release that each and every one of us as employees and part of Delaware North and the Boston Bruins are going to hold ourselves to that standard and Mitchell will be held to that.”
Sweeney and the rest of the front office’s ‘much better understanding’ of the situation did not come with any contact with Meyer-Crothers or his parents, who have remained critical of Miller’s post-conviction actions, and have pushed back on the idea that he even apologized to their son, who still deals with the trauma of the bullying.
“[Miller]’s never reached out to my son, he never reached out to us,” Joni Meyer-Crothers, Isaiah’s mother, said in an interview with WBZ on Friday in the aftermath of Miller’s signing. “I don’t care how talented any player is, he could be the next Wayne Gretzky, but if your player that you’re taking doesn’t have character and isn’t a good human being, then you really might want to rethink what you’re doing.”
(If your due diligence didn’t come with reaching out to the victim’s family, you didn’t do the proper due diligence. Not with a case as nauseating as this, anyway.)
And the players tasked with playing for the Bruins and in Sweeney’s ultimate vision are also wondering what they’re doing. When Sweeney approached the team’s leaders and told them what the team was going to do, one player summed it up best and asked a simple, “Why?”
Speaking with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Friday, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron by all means admitted that the move didn’t fit in with his beliefs on and off the ice.
“I think as a person, but also as a team, we stand for integrity, inclusion, and diversity,” Bergeron said. “That was the first thing that, I guess, came out of my mouth. [Signing Miller] goes against what we are as a culture and as a team, and for me as a person.”
It was as close to a ‘I don’t like this’ as you’ll get from Bergeron, who was tasked with the unenviable duty of either saying he’s on board with Miller before evening meeting the man and understanding his contrition or going against his front office and creating a storyline that would completely overshadow the team’s 10-1-0 start to the season.
Answering for a decision made by management? Just what he wants to after coming back to the B’s on the most team friendly deal imaginable, I’m sure.