Your Weekly Dose is Monarchy Hockey’s opportunity to take a look at the larger picture and examine some things going on around the league. Each week we will take a look at a particular issue or set of occurrences and offer our take. Just because our specialty is the LA Kings doesn’t mean we don’t watch the rest of the league as well!
Mike Milbury embodies everything that is wrong with the NHL. He is out of touch, ignorant, quick to anger, and misinformed on almost everything he speaks on.
And yet for some reason people still listen to him.
You could say that Milbury is a poor-man’s Don Cherry, except his speech is actually intelligible and on occasion he has the potential to actually make a good point or two. But Milbury’s interview with a Philadelphia radio station Monday highlighted yet again the many ways that the ex-coach/player is an embarrassment to the NHL and its fans. In his usual brash and opinionated manner, Milbury threw in his two cents on the melee that broke out in Sunday’s Flyers-Pens game, which involved not only a line brawl on the ice but also Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette attempting to engage with Pens Head Coach Dan Bylsma.
“I can remember being in such a perch or at least trying to climb over the boards to get at somebody to make a point. I thought that was good,” Millbury said on Sports Radio 94WIP. “I thought Dan Bylsma should have taken off his skirt and been over there himself.”
One of the factors that touched off the fighting was a cross-check to Penguins forward Sidney Crosby’s back by Flyers forward Brayden Schenn that was followed by a hit on Danny Briere by Joe Vitale.
Milbury does not believe these types of actions are out of character for Crosby.
“Crosby gets cross-checked, big whoop,” said Milbury on Sports Radio 94WIP. “He said after he came back from his 35th concussion, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to get into those scrums, I’m going to stay away from that stuff’ but he couldn’t help himself because there is a little punk in Crosby. He’s not the perfect gentleman, he’s not that little sweet kid you see in all those interviews with his hat pulled down over his eyes. I say screw him, hit him.”
So to summarize: He called Bylsma a girl, he called the best player in the game ‘a little punk’, and then proceeded to encourage players to take cheap shots at Crosby who is just returning from missing parts of two seasons due to concussion issues (as a side note, he has talked from time to time about how the game needs to change because we have stars like Crosby missing time due to concussions. Hypocritical much?).
Yeah, I can totally see why people listen to him.
I want to make it clear that I’m not on the “we need to clean up the game” bandwagon that so many have jumped on in the past few years. I don’t think we should get rid of fighting in the NHL, I think concussions are a natural part of a high-contact sport, and I have concerns with the direction the game is headed as it continues to bend to the pressures of uninformed viewers and sponsors concerned with player safety. But what I don’t have any patience for is the ignorance and glorification of the ‘Good ‘Ol Days” that so many commentators around the league engage in. Not only do the likes of Cherry and Milbury embarrass themselves every time they are on TV but they continue to harm the growth and development of the sport of hockey, staining the reputations of the NHL and all of the fans who enjoy the game in the process. Parents don’t want to enroll their kids in a game that endorses commentators spouting off about a coach needing to ‘take off his skirt’ and get involved in a fight, and there’s a large portion of the already existing fan-base that grows disenfranchised with the league because of this sort of talk. Milbury’s comments were Monday were short-sighted, ignorant, and just plain stupid, and I for one have had enough of this sort of thing.
The sad thing is, this is nowhere near the first time that Milbury has ranted and raved like this. A simple Google search of his name will bring up pages and pages of news articles and videos (and subsequent apologies), highlighting the laundry-list of inflammatory comments he’s made, about fifteen pages in one might actually find something related to his career as a player and a coach. Even then, you’re most likely to stumble across this:
Milbury has been involved in everything from on-air arguments to insulting players, and even allegedly assaulting a child at his son’s hockey game. So why is this guy still involved in the game? Why do networks continue to hire him and news outlets continue to interview him?
Part of it is has to do with his inflammatory nature. Yes his comments reflect poorly on the league and the game of hockey, but for the station interviewing him he makes for a jaw-dropping segment. His comments are so ridiculous and filled with re-usable soundbites stations can’t help themselves. And in all honesty who can blame them? The mass hysteria surrounding concussions has been huge news over the past few years and what better evidence is there that the NHL needs to change its ways, than five minutes with Mike?
The other side of it is that change comes slowly for the NHL and its coverage. Look at CBC, they’ve employed Don Cherry for decades, even though they continually have to apologize on his behalf for the imbecilic comments he makes each Saturday. There’s a sense in hockey that people from the “Glory Days” of Orr and Howe should be embraced wholeheartedly, regardless of their flaws, and independent of how far the game has come since their time. But more and more the average fan isn’t willing to look past these flaws. Organizations like the You Can Play Project have shed a more progressive light on the league and fans are growing less and less patient with the ranting and raving that some of the game’s alumni choose to involve themselves in. I for one have basically stopped watching intermission coverage altogether; it’s a small gesture, but a clear indication of how sick I’ve become with the current state of affairs.
So I for one think it’s time that sports coverage gets with the times. I have no doubt that were a young journalist to make a few comments like those that have become commonplace for Milbury, he or she would quickly find themselves standing at the nearest bus stop with all their personal items in hand. There’s just no place for it in this day and age and that should go for veterans of the game as it does for everyone else. TSN has some of the best coverage in the entire league and not once have I seen this sort of behaviour from any of their staff. These people are professionals and they approach their job as such. The double standard that has become all too prevalent with other networks needs to be abolished, the sooner the better.
So please, for the love of god, stop interviewing Milbury.