BOSTON -- Within seconds of the announcement hitting inboxes on Friday, the Boston Bruins were getting universally panned for signing controversial prospect Mitchell Miller. Within a day, it was crystal clear that current Bruins players were also not on board with adding Miller to the franchise.
Miller had been a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but his draft rights were rescinded after his long history of bullying a Black, developmentally disabled classmate while in middle school came to light. The Bruins obviously knew about his past when they signed Miller last week, but team president Cam Neelyfor not reaching out to the family of the victim.
Bruins team captain Patrice Bergeron pushed back against the signing on Saturday ahead of the team's game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, and by Sunday night, the Bruins had cut ties with Miller. On Monday, Bergeron said that nearly everyone in the Bruins locker room was opposed to the signing.
"In a way, yes. Like anything, it's not like everyone had something to say. But the general opinion was that," said Bergeron. "I'm glad that we were heard, I guess."
Neely and GM Don Sweeney addressed the team in Toronto on Saturday, though Bergeron said that he'd keep the details of it private. He did say that it was an "open conversation" though, and explained why it was important for him to speak out against the Miller signing.
"To stay true to my values, really. What it comes down to and what is important is to stand up for what you think is wrong," said the B's captain. "That situation, it goes back to what we've built here as an organization, as a team, as a locker room. That is to be inclusive and a locker room of respect and integrity."
Signing Miller went against all of that. Bergeron understand why fans of the team were so enraged at the move.
"It's clear that I understand them. That being said, for us, nothing has changed as far as who we are as individuals, as a culture in this locker room, and what our core values are. As much as I understand them, we hear you and we feel like our values remain the same," Bergeron said of Boston fans.
"We appreciate and love the fan support and the reason everyone is so upset is they're so passionate about the group," added Brad Marchand. "With the beliefs and the way that we handle the room, the type of people we want to have here, that bleeds throughout the organization and through the fans as well. That's why they are upset; because everyone expects to have good people in this room."
Marchand said the signing was management's way of doing what they felt could help the team now and in the future.
"No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. This was one of those mistakes," said Marchand. "Hopefully we can all move on now and get back to worrying about this season."
Bergeron said the controversy was a distraction over the weekend, but it was an important matter to speak out on. It will not take much for this Bruins team to now refocus on the goal at hand.
"It was an important topic to talk about and let your voice be heard. That being said, of course you want to refocus and shift focus back to what we can control in this locker room, and play the best hockey that we can play," he said.
The Bruins will look to get back to their winning ways Monday night, when they host the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden.
for more features.