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Bruins president Cam Neely on Mitchell Miller: ‘We dropped the ball’

Neely was light on specifics about that work.

“From everything I’ve heard, he was working on himself, working in programs to better himself,” Neely said of the “new information” the team cited when cutting ties with Miller. “I was under the impression it was a 14-year-old kid who made a really, really bad decision and did some horrible things, and he’s 20 years old now, so I was under the impression that he, in the last six years, had done a lot of work on himself.”

A number of teams had approached Miller with an interest in signing him, a source told the Globe. Miller said Friday that the Bruins offered him the best “resources,” after he sat down with management and “opened up about what I did and want to do moving forward.”

Why would the Bruins sign Miller when they’re the hottest team in the league?

“The timing was never going to be good,” Neely said. “It got down to are we doing it or not, and we made the wrong decision.”

Neely offered up another apology.

”We dropped the ball, and I’m here to apologize for that.”

Here are some takeaways from Neely’s press conference.

What we know about Mitchell Miller | Read more Bruins stories

Cam Neely: It’s ‘concerning’ team did not talk to victim’s family

Neely said it was “concerning” the Bruins did not talk to the family of Miller’s victim.

Why didn’t they? “It’s a great question.”

Neely apologized to Isaiah Meyer-Crouthers in his statement on Sunday night, and said he would be reaching out to the family.

When asked if he assumed that the team had spoke with the Meyer-Crouthers family, Neely said he “shouldn’t assume anything.”

On the timeline

On Friday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said that they had been working with Miller for six months.

Neely said that the possibility of the team signing Miller “was brought to my attention in early August.

“… We said if we’re going to do this, we want to make sure he’s in the right programs and understands the values that we have with diversity and inclusion.”

On the vetting process and NHL eligibility

He also said it was a failure as part of the vetting process.

Neely was asked about what his scouts thought of Miller.

“From a hockey standpoint, the scouts think he’s a player that can play,” he said. “From a character standpoint, that’s where we failed.”

Scouts did say that they thought Miller had grown since the incident, and that he believes in second chances.

“I do believe in second chances but maybe some don’t deserve it,” he said. “I’m not saying it in particular in this situation, but I do believe in second chances.”

Neely also said he was under the impression that Miller would need to speak directly to commissioner Gary Bettman in order to be cleared to play in the NHL.

On the response from Bruins players

Neely was asked if the statements from current Bruins players weighed on him.

“There was a lot of factors in this decision,” he said, “and that was one of them.”

Captain Patrice Bergeron said on Saturday he was consulted by the Bruins about a week ago.

“I had my concerns,” Bergeron said. “I shared my opinion. In a way, I think I was not necessarily agreeing with it — to be honest with you, I think the culture that we’ve built here goes against that type of behavior. I think we are a team built on character and with character individuals. What he did, obviously is unacceptable. We don’t stand by that.”

Bergeron said he would want evidence of “growth and change” from Miller before he entered the room.

“Truthfully, if it’s the same 14-year-old that would be walking into this locker room,” said Bergeron, “he wouldn’t be accepted and wanted and welcomed, to be honest with you.”

What’s the message to Bruins fans?

“I’m extremely upset that we have made a lot of people unhappy with our decision,” Neely said. “I take pride in the Bruins organization and what we stand for and we failed there.”

Key quotes from Neely

On what changed between Friday night and Sunday night: “We didn’t have enough information, we could have dug deeper.”

Did the Bruins move quickly on signing Miller because there was interest from other teams? “I didn’t care about other teams.”

Does he feel duped? “Yeah, it’s best I not get into that.”

On why Neely signed off on the signing: “It was a decision we didn’t take lightly, I felt that based on everything I knew, he deserved a second chance.”

Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac. Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.



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