- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
The Boston Bruins have retained former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct an independent review of their player-vetting process after they signed prospect Mitchell Miller and then parted ways with him two days later amid intense backlash.
The Bruins announced on Tuesday that Lynch, of the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, will “conduct an independent review of our player-vetting process” and ensure that “our process going forward reflects our core values.”
Boston said it will fully cooperate with the review and will publicly disclose the results upon its completion.
“The Boston Bruins strive every day to live our values and meet the high standards our associates, fans and community have come to expect,” the Bruins said in a statement released Tuesday. “This includes treating everyone inside and outside our organization with dignity and respect. We recently fell short of our high standards and disappointed both ourselves and many in our community.”
The Bruins signed Miller, a 20-year-old defenseman, to an entry-level contract on Nov. 4 with the intention of sending him to AHL Providence. The team, however, announced on Nov. 6 that it was parting ways with Miller after intense backlash from fans, the team’s own players and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Miller remains under contract with the team and is technically still a member of Providence. Among the options for the Bruins: pay Miller to stay home for this season and then buy him out at the end of the year for one-third of his NHL salary; or to work with Miller and the NHLPA on a settlement that would allow him to become a free agent
He was a fourth-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but his draft rights were relinquished when a story was published about how he and another middle school classmate were convicted in juvenile court in 2016 of assaulting and bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a Black classmate with developmental disabilities.
In the report, Meyer-Crothers’ mother alleged Miller began abusing her son in second grade and repeatedly used racial slurs. Miller admitted in an Ohio juvenile court that he used racial epithets against Meyer-Crothers, physically assaulted him and at one point tricked him into “licking a candy push pop that Miller and another boy had wiped in a bathroom urinal,” according to a police report.
Fans were outraged by the signing of Miller, and Bruins veterans such as Nick Foligno and Patrice Bergeron expressed disappointment. Bettman reiterated Miller wasn’t cleared by his office to play for the Bruins and “I can’t tell you that he’ll ever be eligible to come into the NHL.”
On Nov. 7, Boston president Cam Neely expressed concern over failures in the team’s vetting process in signing Miller. He cited “new information” when the team walked away from Miller on Nov. 6. Neely said the fact that the Bruins never reached out to the family of Meyer-Crothers “was concerning” and that it was “absolutely” a problem with the team’s vetting process.
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