02.16.09

Intellectually Speaking, Mike Milbury Is a Bit Light In the Loafers (…and Other Hockey News)

Posted in Hockey at 1:14 am by

If you’ve ever watched the likes of “Trailer Park Boys,” “Testees” or (my favorite) “Rent-A-Goalie,” then you know Canadian TV is not as prudish as its U.S. counterpart. This was further borne out today on NBC by between-periods analyst Mike Milbury (above).

The poor man’s Don Cherry who isn’t Barry Melrose made some headlines in the Globe and Mail a few weeks ago for his multiple references to “the pansification of hockey” on Hockey Night in Canada. CBC producer Scott Moore said he didn’t have a problem with the word, though even Grapes himself quickly rejected it.

“I’ve upset just about everybody else, but never ever said anything about gays,” he said.

The Hockey Night commentator said yesterday he supports gay initiatives and has influenced teenagers to come out of the closet. He recalled plugging a gay hockey tournament in New York on Coach’s Corner several years ago.

“I got a nice letter from the head of the gays thanking me very much,” Cherry said.

Yup, that’s progress.

So today, after a ticky-tack unsportsmanlike conduct call on some shoving by New York’s Colton Orr (who couldn’t get the fight he wanted with his team down 5-1), Milbury had his say.

“I’m trying to find a word to describe it. I’ve used ‘wimpification of the sport, that one works.”

But had he actually used ‘wimpification of the sport” before?

“Or maybe I could call it the Pierre McGuireification of the game,” Milbury continued. “That would work for it too.”

Yes, if you’re familar with the history and context, Mike Milbury all but called his broadcast partner a fag on national television. Some people might want him fired. And some might want to give him his own radio show.

- The game itself was disappointing in a way – the Flyers and the Rangers haven’t played since October 11, so I was looking forward to a few hours of entertainment. Except the Rangers have been limpid for the past few weeks, so much so that Milbury was quick to join what had so far been a one-man banging-of-the-drum (by Larry Brooks) for Sean Avery’s return.

The Flyers 5-2 win was significant for rookie Claude Giroux’s big night (1 G, 2 As) and Mike Richards’ fifth shorthanded tally during a Rangers five-on-three. In just his fourth pro season the Flyers’ captain has become the first NHL player ever to score three career shorthanded goals with his team playing two men down. Is that because we’re in the era of more penalties, or the era of more-skilled penalty killers? (I suspect the latter is a direct result of the former, actually.)

- Then, of course, the night was capped off with the firing of Penguins coach Michel Therrien, about whom the Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook said last July, “I’m betting Therrien will become the first coach in Penguins history — 41 years and counting — to start and finish four consecutive seasons.”

This was his third. Of course, Cook was assuming that the team would play well. Certainly, extensions never change a thing – five weeks before that, when all the talk of locker room discontent first surfaced, I wrote on a message board:

...he’s going to end up getting fired if they don’t come out like gangbusters, or he will if they don’t do anything less than raise the Cup. And he was never Shero’s guy. It’d be jumping the gun but it’s a gun they’ll probably fire sooner rather than later anyway.

Hardly genius or clairvoyant, of course – to some extent the same could have been said about John Stevens or Bruce Boudreau.

- And finally, it’s understandable that Deadspin can do nothing but chortle at the thought of a theatrical evening of “Hockey Erotica,” ’cause yeah, it doesn’t get much more Canadian than that (unless someone has done a show of “Maple Iced Donut Erotica”).

But the truth is, it is an intriguing work from director Blake Brooker, based on short stories by Dave Bidini (author of Tropic of Hockey among other books, and, full disclosure, blurber of Zamboni Rodeo), with music by his band the Rheostatics. I suppose the U.S. equivalent would be a night of “Baseball Erotica” from Stefan Fatsis, Hal Brooks and Steve Wynn.

2 Responses to “Intellectually Speaking, Mike Milbury Is a Bit Light In the Loafers (…and Other Hockey News)”

  1. As a cable-less hockey nut living outside a pro market, the Sunday NBC games are all I get, which basically amounts to sheer torture. The game selections are uninspired (Sharks Devils looks like a barnburner from the box score), atfernoon play is typically lethargic, Milbury is an embarassment and the coverage could not be more provincial. The internationality and poetics of the game are disguised in favor of an imaginary workaday league in which Crosby dazzles while the rest of the nameless lunks agitate for fights as if harboring some eternal grievance. The only consolation is Emrick, who truly is one of the best calls in all of sport.

  2. TheBard says:

    Milbury is brain dead. I just spent the last few hours scouring his picks from the 3rd round on from 96 to 05 and its a scary group of talentless players.

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