The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Mitchell Miller to a three-year entry-level contract, but the signing does not come without controversy.

Miller was taken in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Arizona Coyotes despite his 2016 conviction of assault against a classmate.

When more details of the assault became public in October 2020, the Coyotes relinquished his draft rights. He was then kicked off the University of North Dakota hockey team.

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The Boston Bruins logo at center ice at TD Garden during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks Dec. 5, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston.

The Boston Bruins logo at center ice at TD Garden during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks Dec. 5, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston. (John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Miller pleaded guilty at the age of 14 to one count of assault and violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act. Miller and another student forced Isaiah Meyer-Crothers to eat a lollipop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal. Surveillance footage also showed them kicking and punching him.

It also was found that Miller called Meyer-Crothers, who is Black and has developmental disabilities, the N-word and “brownie” frequently.

Inflatable NHL and Bruins logos in the Fan Zone before Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues May 29, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston. 

Inflatable NHL and Bruins logos in the Fan Zone before Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues May 29, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston.  (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“He pretended to be my friend and made me do things I didn’t want to do,” Meyer-Crothers told the Arizona Republic in 2020. “In junior high, I got beat up by him. … Everyone thinks he’s so cool that he gets to go to the NHL, but I don’t see how someone can be cool when you pick on someone and bully someone your entire life.”

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“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in a statement of his own. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago. 

“I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society. As a member of the Bruins organization, I will continue to participate in community programs to both educate myself and share my mistakes with others to show what a negative impact those actions can have on others. To be clear, what I did when I was 14 years old was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world for being disrespectful to others and I pledge to use this opportunity to speak out against mistreating others.”

The Bruins did not reach out to Meyer-Crothers’ family, general manager Don Sweeney said.

But the Bruins maintain they did their due diligence, and Mitchell was “accountable for his unacceptable behavior.”

“Representing the Boston Bruins is a privilege we take seriously as an organization,” Bruins President Cam Neely said in a statement. “During this evaluation period, Mitchell was accountable for his unacceptable behavior and demonstrated his commitment to work with multiple organizations and professionals to further his education and use his mistake as a teachable moment for others.”

The TD Garden before a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins Oct. 8, 2014, in Boston.  

The TD Garden before a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins Oct. 8, 2014, in Boston.   (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Miller sat out the 2020-21 season before scoring 39 goals with 44 assists for Tri-City of the USHL in 2021-22. He was named the USHL’s player and defenseman of the year after setting league records for goals and points by a defenseman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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