NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Saturday that Mitchell Miller, who has previously been involved in a bullying scandal, is ineligible to play in the league, adding that league officials were not consulted before the Boston Bruins signed Miller.
“He’s not going to come to the NHL, he’s not eligible to enter the NHL at this point. I can’t tell you he’s ever going to be eligible to enter the NHL,” Bettman said, speaking at the NHL Global Series in Tampere, Finland.
The Bruins announced Friday that they had signed Miller, 20, to an entry-level contract, two years after the Arizona Coyotes waived his rights to the player following a report in the Arizona Republic that Miller bullied a black classmate with a disability as a child. High school in 2016.
Miller and another teenager were accused of tricking Isaiah Meyers-Crothers into eating candy from a urinal and physically assaulting him. Miller and another teenager admitted to the harassment in Ohio juvenile court and were sentenced to community service, according to the Republic.
“From what I understand, and I’ve heard anecdotally through the media, what he did as a 14-year-old is reprehensible, unacceptable,” Bettman said Saturday. “Before the Bruins made the decision to sign him, we were not consulted.”
The Bruins said Friday Miller would be assigned to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, a professional league that is not part of the NHL but serves as a future developmental league for the NHL. Along with their announcement, the team released a statement from Miller, in which he said he “deeply” regretted the incident and “apologised to the individual.”
When asked about his thoughts on Miller’s signing, Bettman said, “Really, if at some point (the Bruins) think they want him to play in the NHL, and I’m not sure they’re anywhere near that point, clear him and his eligibility.” We will need it, and it will be based on all the information we get directly at the moment.”
“They were free to sign to play elsewhere, that’s another league’s issue, but nobody should think he is or can be NHL eligible at this point. And the Bruins understand that now,” added the commissioner.
Bruins president Cam Neely said that before Miller was signed, the team’s Hockey Operations and Community Relations teams “spent time with him over the last several weeks,” during which time Miller “took responsibility for his unacceptable behavior and demonstrated his commitment.” working with multiple organizations and professionals to further his education and use his mistake as a teaching moment for others.’
Miller played in 60 games last season with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League. He was named USHL Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year after setting league records for goals and assists in a season by a defenseman.