TORONTO — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Saturday, per a report by The Athletic, that he informed Bruins president Cam Neely that Mitchell Miller has not been granted the right to play in the league, adding more intrigue and confusion to Boston’s controversial signing of the defenseman to a three-year contract on Friday.
“Before the Bruins made the decision to sign him, we were not consulted,” Bettman told The Athletic’s Peter Baugh. “I happened to talk to Cam Neely since the time he was signed.”
Bettman also said that Miller is “not coming to the NHL and he’s not eligible at this point to come into the NHL.”
Miller, 20, became a pariah in the hockey community soon after the Arizona Coyotes made him the 111th pick in the 2020 draft. Reporting in Arizona found that Miller years earlier in Ohio joined in the disgusting hazing of a Black classmate who had developmental disabilities. Miller, then 14, pleaded guilty to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. Per the reporting at the time, Miller coerced the victim, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, into licking a candy push pop plucked from a urinal.
The Coyotes subsequently severed ties with Miller, abandoning his playing rights. He signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Bruins and will make a minimum of slightly more than $500,000 over the next three years, even if the Bruins never choose to add him to the NHL roster.
Ominously, Bettman added that he couldn’t say Miller ever will be cleared for NHL play.
“If in fact at some point [the Bruins] think they want him to play in the NHL,” he said, “I’m not sure they are anywhere close to that point, we’re going to have to clear him and his eligibility.”
Bettman, close friends with Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who is also chairman of the league’s Board of Governors, further stated that “nobody should think, at this point, he is or may ever be NHL-elgible.”
The Bruins, said Bettman, “understand that now.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.