As far as public statements go, this one rings pretty hollow:
To make a long story short, in the late hours of Thursday, in the hopes of sneaking through to Friday-news-dump territory, the Bruins signed minor league defenseman Mitchell Miller. Whether that name is familiar or not, it’s important to remind everyone that Miller was the player the Coyotes had to renounce the rights to after it came to public awareness that Miller had spent most of his teen years bullying and abusing a disabled classmate who also happened to be Black. The details were galling to the least, and Arizona had little choice after the public outcry.
The Bruins would like to tell you they took all of this into consideration. What that means is that GM Don Sweeney saw it as an advantage. He saw Miller as a devalued asset, whose past abhorrent actions were nothing different than an injury he’d overcome and made him more available. He was a talent shrouded in a cloud that kept him hidden from those who didn’t want to win as badly as Sweeney did, is how Sweeney assuredly saw it.
After a weekend when his own players made it clear they didn’t want this shitbird on their team, his own fans did the same, and he made Gary Bettman look like the good guy when the commissioner made it clear Miller wasn’t eligible to be in the NHL and likely wouldn’t be, only then did Sweeney put his tail between his legs.
Make no mistake, there was no “new information.” The Bruins thought this all had blown over, and that their own fans’ veracious support would clear the runway just enough. Hockey men still have no idea how the world works outside of hockey, and Sweeney was under the impression that the kinds of things Miller did are simply hijinx of young hockey players who have been allowed to get away with everything for so long. Sweeney was blindsided that his players, his league, and his fans actually have a social conscience beyond what the hockey world engineers. He never saw it coming because he’s never had to before.
It’s a small, ugly step, but it is progress that the Bruins had to walk it back, and likely no team in the future will make the same mistake. Hockey should not be for people like Miller, and this is how the sport and league goes about making it so. It’s going to take more hockey men being unpleasantly awakened in public like this, or embarrassed if you like. The teaching isn’t going to come from within, that’s for sure.