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Mike Milbury's Television Act is Getting Old

Jan 9, 2011 – 1:30 PM
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Kevin Schultz

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Saturday night on CBC's Hot Stove, a panel discussion between Ron MacLean, Eric Francis, Pierre LeBrun and Mike Milbury devolved into a shouting match between panelists. The brunt of the fervent discourse was about hits to the head focusing on the recent destructions of Detroit's Brad Stuart and Ottawa's Peter Regin. Instead of intelligent discourse and debate on the subject we were left with a bunch of grown men yelling at each other on TV -- something that's a standard occurance when Mike Milbury is involved.

Whether it's with Pierre McGuire on the NHL on NBC or the recent Hot Stove panel, Milbury seems intent on being the vocal minority for the "old school hockey" crowd -- emphasis on vocal. No matter the subject, he'll talk about his playing days and give any subject the "in my day" treatment similar to what you might hear out of Don Cherry. It almost seems as though Milbury is auditioning for Grapes' job when he finally hangs up the microphone. To hear him debate the Stuart hit with the other panelists was an exercise in futility as much as it was inane.

"Loved it! Let's go to namby pamby land because I know these guys have other thoughts," Milbury exclaimed when MacLean asked for his thoughts on the Stuart hit. "Stuart had the puck, he's trying to get rid of it. You guys just wanna keep. ... You know, why don't we all just go listen to Peter, Paul and Mary records."

Instead of arguing his point in a more intelligent manner, we're treated to Milbury accusing anyone he can -- be it the panelists, league or Brad Stuart himself of being soft, not old school enough or just not seeing exactly what he's seeing. He's more than welcome to his opinion and if it's from the Don Cherry "School of Old School Thinking" that's fine with me. There's certainly a sizeable segment of the audience that thinks the same way -- although I do have an issue with referencing Milbury's playing days since Milbury was going into the stands when Ron Artest was only one month old. The issue I'm taking up with Milbury is that he devolves the conversation into something more, how do you say, prehistoric.

At least with Don Cherry, he's been around so long he's like the crazy great uncle that gets up on his soapbox in the middle of town every Saturday night. Love him or hate him, you know exactly what you're going to get. The wild and colorful suits even act as a great diffusion mechanism. Sure, Cherry may be in the middle of a rant calling European players soft, but if he's doing it in a suit with giant pink flowers it tends to, intentionally or unintentionally, distract viewers from the message.

"Surely, the guy in the pink suit isn't wholly serious, is he?"

With Milbury there is no diffusion. There is no lighter side. You never really know if he's going to be calm or go off like he did Saturday night. There's simply a guy accusing his panelists of not seeing what he's seeing: that Brad Stuart had control of the puck which is akin to saying any one person has the potato in a game of hot potato. Then there's his own personal difference of opinion and how vastly different his own thoughts on the Stuart and Regin hits were just moments apart (starts at around 2:30 of this video).



Milbury's playing career was as an enforcer for 12 seasons with the Boston Bruins. He later went on to coach two years with the Bruins, taking them to the Stanley Cup Finals once, and then helped run the New York Islanders into the ground as GM and sometimes coach where he was always good for a soundbite. Since then, he's started his career as a broadcaster on TSN, CBC, NBC and Boston's NESN.

Those are the networks that make the decisions to put him on the air and they have every right to. It's also not like there are a ton of people out there who can have a civil discourse on as serious a subject as hits to the head. No, we all know the biggest names talking about hockey on the Internet -- a place devoid of all reason and sanity -- like Greg Wyshynski and Chris Botta would look like fools if given the chance. Instead, we have to live with Milbury on multiple networks multiple times a week.

Alas, with Milbury we're left with another talking head blathering at the top of his lungs looking for attention. Whether it's across from Pierre McGuire on NBC or Pierre LeBrun last night, Milbury appears to be talking as loud and as "old school" as he can to gain attention and nothing more. If that's his plan it's working as Milbury was a trending topic on Twitter in Canada after the broadcast. So, isn't any discourse on his discourse just making Mike Milbury more famous?
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