Ben Lepper ’25
Being a Boston Bruins fan in today’s day and age is certainly something. Are they always good? Yes, absolutely. Year in and year out, they boast some of the best talent in the NHL. But, come April, they can never get past the second round of the playoffs (except for 2019 when they decided to switch it up and lose in the finals). The team is good, the coaches have been good, and everything should be lining up; but they’re just not good enough to compete at the highest level. This can be accredited to a couple men: GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely. For years, they’ve blown chances at building a legitimate super-team and Bruins fans’ number one wish is for them to be gone. But, after their recent move, the calls for their jobs are louder than ever.
Mitchell Miller is not a good human being. After being drafted into the Arizona Coyotes’ organization in 2020, people began to find out who he really was. For years, he and his friends had tormented Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a developmentally disabled African-American classmate. Harassment ranged from name-calling to an incident involving a urinal and a piece of candy. The Coyotes quickly dropped him from their organization, and was also removed from the University of North Dakota’s hockey team. However, he eventually would begin to play hockey again with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. It seemed clear that his shot at the NHL was all but tarnished.
Or so we thought. On November 4, the Boston Bruins signed Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract. This signing didn’t make sense whatsoever: the Bruins were off to one of their best starts in franchise history with a blistering record of 10-1 and they weren’t in need of any younger blood for the roster. Regardless, Sweeney and Neely decided to pull the trigger on Miller, a decision that Sweeney would repeatedly label as “potentially a mistake” in a press conference later that day.
Nobody liked this. Bruins fans began to fill the team’s inbox with messages and fired off angry tweet after angry tweet. Bruins forward Nick Foligno said that the signing was “Hard for us to swallow.” He also said “I don’t think any guy was too happy.” Captain Patrice Bergeron followed Foligno’s comments by saying “The culture we built here goes against that kind of behavior. In this locker room, we’re all about inclusion, diversity, respect.” The Bruins’ brass had lost the locker room, the media, and the fanbase, and that wasn’t it: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman renounced the Bruins’ signing of Miller, as well.
The situation would only get worse for Boston. It was revealed that the Bruins had spoken to Miller about this, but not to the family of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. Sweeney went out and said that it wasn’t important to hear both sides of the story at the time. This quote just sums up this incident in a nutshell: the Bruins didn’t care about any side of the story that wouldn’t benefit them. However, they eventually made the right move.
Miller’s contract was terminated on November 6th following backlash from every possible source that there could be backlash from. No matter what happens next, Don Sweeney and Cam Neely will always have this black eye on their records, and in my opinion, they should be gone. We all know that Miller’s contract was terminated only because everyone stood against it. If it were up to them, Miller would be a big part of the team’s rotation going forward.
But it’s important to look at the good in this situation. The Boston Bruins’ locker room and fanbase both stood up against blatant injustice, and without them, Miller would still be in the organization. Hockey does have a culture problem, but maybe it’s not always with the players. It definitely isn’t in Boston’s case. Instead, Boston’s cultural issues lie within their front office. And, as long as that front office is still making decisions, things are not going to change. A team’s culture starts at the top, and the sooner league GMs stop making morally bankrupt decisions, the sooner hockey’s culture will be fixed.
Image courtesy of The Rink Live
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