Mike Milbury, part-time NBC hockey color analyst for NHL and Olympic coverage, as well as a full-time analyst for the Boston Bruins on NESN, sent a mild tremor through the broadcasting and hockey world, when he characterized the Russian Olympic Team's poor showing against the Canadians last night as a "Euro-Trash game".
Mad Mike is getting a lot of heat this morning for those words, as well as his between period conversation with NBC teammate Jeremy Roenicke where he trash talked Alex Ovechkin during a comparison with Sidney Crosby, currently the NHL and Canada's poster child.
(Alex Ovechkin is hands down, by any mearsurable criteria, the best and most gifted player in the Game of Hockey right now....PERIOD-NO DISCUSSION ...just my opinion).
Milbury's latest comments, however, are indicative of his career in hockey...as a Player, as a Coach, as a General Manager and now as a color analyst. (btw....those that can? DO, those that can't? ANALYZE...yes, I acknowledge that, with this blog, and in particular this entry, that I am equally guilty of that charge).
Mike Milbury has spent a lifetime in the game as a wannabe. Never very good at anything he tried, he has pretty much sucked in every aspect of the game of hockey.
As a less than average defensemen during his playing career, he was a wannabe Dit Clapper for the Boston Bruins. Dit's biography includes this salty reference "One of the more interesting moments in Clapper's career was the time he punched out a referee and future NHL president". Milbury never went after League Royalty, he went after lower life forms than his own, manifested by this single YouTube highlight video of his playing career:
As a coach for the Boston Bruins he was a wannabe Harry Sinden, a long-time legendary coach for the Bruins, who brought the City of Boston a cherished Stanley Cup. Milbury spent just two years coaching the Bruins, and even reached the Stanley Cup finals in his first year as a coach. Not bad (he inherited a GREAT TEAM) but his short career as the Bruins "coach" will always be remembered by what he did when he was named coach of Wales Conference for the 1991 All-Star Game ("named" only because his Bruins came in 1st place in the conference the previous season). Rather than including legitimate All-Stars like Guy Lafleur and Kirk Muller for what is a showcase NHL event of skilled players, he added a "goon" (Chris Nilan) and journeyman defensive player (Brian Skrudland) in order to "toughen up his team", for a game where "toughness" has never been a priority. Milbury also went on to coach the New York Islanders for 3+ years, a tenure highlighted by the Isles consistently earning a top draft pick as a result of having one of the worst records in the league.
But Milbury achieved a nadir of ineptness when he became the General Manager of my beloved New York Islanders (Disclaimer, yes...I am very biased in my opinions towards Mike Milbury because of this).
As a wannabe Bill Torrey (legendary Islander GM who crafted 4 consecutive Stanley Cup winners), Mike Milbury succeeded in single handedly destroying what was once a premier NHL Franchise.
While no statistics or records are kept in this category, it is widely believed that Mike Milbury holds the All-Time NHL record for General Managers who have traded AWAY future NHL All-Stars. A veritable DYNASTY of potential Stanley Cup winning players. Names that litter the current International Olympic landscape....including, but not limited to: Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, Bryan McCabe, Roberto Luongo, Tommy Salo, Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Tim Connolly, and Raffi Torres. Milbury has also come under fire for his draft day decisions such as choosing Rick DiPietro first overall in 2000 over Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik; as well as his decision to include the 2001 second overall draft pick (Jason Spezza) as part of the trade for Alexei Yashin (long gone...biggest claim to fame? He married the stunning model Carol Alt while with the Isles). And there isn't an Islander fan in the world who still wonders why Milbury selected Robert Nillson (who?) in the 2003 entry draft when the son of an original fan favorite Islander and current U.S. Olympic star Zach Parise was available....who was IMMEDIATELY snatched up by the New Jersey Devils.
Now In 2010, Milbury is a wannabe Don Cherry, the volatile Canadian hockey analyst and truly colorful broadcaster, who at least has a better resume as a player and coach coming into the position. And who does a much better job at crass, nationalistic commentary about hockey than Milbury can ever hope to achieve.
But rather than fill this blog with my own cheap shots at Milbury in this category, I'll defer to a good friend and long-time Islander fan B.D. Gallof, who succinctly summarizes, with some of his usual outstanding photoshopped visual aids, Milbury's inabilities as a color analyst in this column for the Huffington Post:
Mike Milbury BLOWS....and he's a boring dresser.
Get rid of him NBC....(steal Don Cherry, please?) ......Boston deserves to have him all to themselves.
Just my opinion..