TORONTO — About a week ago, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney approached Patrice Bergeron. Sweeney asked Bergeron’s opinion on signing Mitchell Miller, the USHL free agent prospect who scored 39 goals and 83 points in 60 games with the Tri-City Storm last season. Miller was considered toxic by most NHL teams due to his racist comments and repeated mistreatment of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers when he was 14 years old.
The captain told Sweeney the truth.
“I had my concerns,” Bergeron said. “I shared my opinion. In a way, I didn’t necessarily agree with that. To be honest with you, the culture we’ve built here is against that kind of behavior. We are a team that has built something on character, character people and individuals. What he did, of course, is unacceptable. We don’t stop there.
“For me, I know for me anyway, in this locker room we’re all about inclusion, diversity, respect. Those are key words and core values that we have. We expect the guys who wear this jersey are people of character with integrity and respect, that’s how they should act.
“I understand he is going to work in development programs and community programs to improve himself. It is up to him to do it. That’s it. From my perspective, it’s a hockey operations decision. For my part, we can control what we can control. Honestly, I hope there is growth and change. If it’s the same 14-year-old boy walking into that locker room, he wouldn’t be accepted, sought out, and welcomed into that locker room, to be honest with you. That’s my position on it.
That didn’t deter Sweeney from signing Miller, as the team announced on Friday.
On Saturday, Bergeron, assistant captain Brad Marchand and former Columbus captain Nick Foligno addressed the situation ahead of the Bruins’ game against the Maple Leafs. All three were unhappy.
Meanwhile, at the Global Series in Finland, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Athleticism‘s Aaron Portzline that the Bruins did not notify the league of the signing. Miller would not be eligible to play without NHL clearance. Bettman said he would have to see “a whole bunch of stuff” before making Miller eligible.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Bruins did not consult with the league before signing Mitchell Miller.
“We are a team built with character and people with character. What he did is unacceptable and we do not maintain it,” added captain Patrice Bergeron. https://t.co/ysUrA4Xfnz pic.twitter.com/MhnP5oBgFY
— The Athletic NHL (@TheAthleticNHL) November 5, 2022
Here’s what else Bruins executives had to say about the signing and its impact.
Bergeron on whether the signing could harm team culture:
“Our culture is not going to change. Our culture is what it is. It’s something I’m proud of. It’s something we worked hard for. We don’t need to change that. The changes come from the individual himself.
Merchant on signature:
“We understand the dynamic around it. We have a culture in this organization, in this room. We obviously do not condone what happened. It will never be part of our team and our organization. If he is with our group, it will be because he has shown that he has learned and matured and that he has come a long way. It will be a very long process for him. It’s on him. In the end, we can only control what we can, and that’s what’s in our bedroom. If that time ever comes, it will be dealt with when necessary. For now, it’s a long process for him.
Merchant to have to speak about the situation in the middle of a 10-1-0 start:
“We are a group. Whatever happens at any time of the year, we all go through it together. It’s always been like that. The organization had to go through things with me that I’m sure they didn’t want to deal with. Not everything is good and not everything is bad. You go with the ebb and flow. You deal with it as a group. This is another situation. »
Marchand explains why now:
“With a situation like this, I’m not sure there’s ever a good timing. It’s just one of those things where if they feel it’s time, then it’s time. It’s a long process for that kid to make amends or show they’ve learned and come a long way. This process has to start at some point. I guess it is now.
Merchant to find out if this makes it harder for players:
“If the kid is going to be in that room, we have a standard that we hold our teammates to, to be in that room. If we don’t feel like he’s there, then he won’t be there. “It’s like with anyone. If there’s a guy that comes in and he doesn’t fit in, he’s gone. We’ve proven that year after year. I understand where it’s all coming from. But again, if he ever gets here, it’ll be because he’s shown he’s learned and covered the distance he needed to.
“There’s a lot of stuff that comes with that, a lot of backlash and media attention that the team is going through at the moment. He’s got a lot of work to do. It’s a second chance for him. He’s going to having to show that he deserves it. He has a long, long road ahead of him.”
Foligno on the signature:
“It’s tough. It’s a really tough subject. First and foremost, the organization is not going to do anything that would jeopardize that. But in saying that, it’s not something anyone in this room represents. The culture that we’ve built and these guys have built before I got here is one of inclusion. I think it’s going against that. I understand he was 14 years when he made that mistake. But it’s hard for us to swallow. Because we’re very proud here of how we act, how we carry ourselves, what it’s like to be a Bruin So that was a hard thing for our band to hear.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t think any guy was too happy because we’re proud to say this is a band that cares a lot about ourselves and how we behave and how we treat people . So it was, for a lot of guys, especially those who were here, a tough pill to swallow. Along the same lines, I don’t think the organization ever looks out for our best interests. But I think we have a lot of concerns. This kid will have to answer for it and will have to prove to everyone and to himself, especially if he wants to walk into this room, that he is a changed man. We hope it will work in this direction.
“But I think right now our chamber is more worried about the band here and what we’re doing. It’s something special that we have here. We’re not going to let anything like that ever enter our room.
Wrote about Mitchell Miller and the stupid, ugly, unsurprising Bruins decision. Mask up for the NHL, again.https://t.co/Nkc9trYNyo
— Sean Nice (@seangilly) November 4, 2022
Foligno on whether the signing puts a burden on Bergeron as captain:
“Yes and no. Being a leader never comes without some adversity. Bergy is a guy who can handle that. But I think he’s always going to stay true to himself. Whether he likes what they’re doing or not. have done, he won’t be the man of the company. It’s a matter of morals. Bergy is a guy who has always respected his morals. I don’t think he’s happy, obviously. None of us are, really, with the situation. At the same time, this is the reality that we face, whether we like it or not. What’s going to happen here, we’re going to regroup. Because that’s what says Bergy. He brings everyone together and makes us understand that it’s not going to infect this room. Because this room is built on the principles that this kid obviously opposed.
“It’s a tough place for Bergy. We are all in this situation. It’s not to oppose the organization. I know (President) Cam (Neely) and Sweens are always trying to do what’s best for the organization and probably wouldn’t, without verification. But still, it’s hard for us to swallow because there’s still something there that this kid obviously did very badly and hurt someone. I don’t think any guy here represents that.
(Top photo by Patrice Bergeron: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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