Another excellent piece by Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe on the firing of outspoken hockey analyst/GM/coach/player Mike Milbury, saying it like it is, which was, the last time I checked, what he was paid to do. In times likes these we’re all at risk of being canceled.
Hockey was good to Mike Milbury, and Mike Milbury was good for hockey. He played for Walpole High, Colgate, and 12 seasons with the Bruins before becoming head coach of the Black and Gold, taking them to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season behind the bench. He later coached and ran the New York Islanders, then enjoyed a long career of hockey broadcast analysis, where his candor and wit made him a must-listen every year, especially at playoff time.
And then it all went away with nine words uttered last August in the NHL playoff bubble in Toronto, when Milbury was on the air with fellow analyst Brian Boucher.
Boucher was discussing life in the bubble during an Islanders-Capitals broadcast, concluding that the no-fan, no-family bubble was a perfect place for teammate bonding and good competition, when Milbury added, “Not even any women here to disrupt your concentration.”
That was it. That’s the totality of his transgression that got him fired after 46 years in and around the NHL, 14 with NBC.
The league immediately condemned Milbury’s comment as “insensitive and insulting.” Milbury left the bubble the next day after issuing a statement that read (in part), “In light of the attention caused by my recent remark, I have decided to step away from my role at NBC Sports for the remainder of the playoffs.”
Within a few weeks, he was informed by NBC that he would not be returning to the broadcasts, even though he had another year on his contract.
The last paycheck from NBC has cleared.
Before he went into broadcasting, Mike Milbury was head coach of the Bruins from 1989 to 1991.
“Now it’s time to say something,” Milbury said Thursday on a phone call from the Cape. “I don’t want to end 46 years of a career like this.
“I want to explain the comment from that day. As a player and coach in the league, I’ve been on a lot of road trips and around a lot of guys that are young, fit, well-compensated, have celebrity status, and when they go on the road they play hard and they party hard. And a lot of their attention is on women, and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way.
“Now I get it, everybody else has other ways to party, but that’s my experience and I stand by it. It’s biology, for [goodness] sake. So sometimes their lust for companionship was a distraction. So I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the comment, but apparently it was to other people. And I got dismissed from my job.
“Excuse me, but I’m not going to be canceled. I refuse to be canceled. The only thing that’s going to cancel me is the grim reaper, and I can see him in the distance, but not yet.
“While I’ve been on this sabbatical, I’ve thought many things. Long walks. There are many social inequities in the United States, and I am glad they are being addressed. Great things. I think we can all agree with that. But it’s become a tsunami of social change and tsunamis are indiscriminate. They’ll wipe out the good and the bad and anything in its way, and I don’t think that’s right. It makes heroes out of people that aren’t heroes, and villains out of people that aren’t villains, and maybe worst of all, a social tsunami is too quick to point a finger and too quick to declare guilt by legacy, and I’m not going to accept that. Just because bad things happened in the past doesn’t mean I’ve got to be guilty for things that happen today. I don’t buy that.
“What if I had said there aren’t any dogs here to distract the players? Or any wives? Or children? Do I have to describe the whole pantheon of the human race in order for it to be politically correct? . . . I didn’t feel like I was offending anybody. Has your wife ever been a distraction in your life? I hope you give me the right [expletive] answer.”
Milbury said he approached NHL commissioner Gary Bettman a few weeks ago.
“I wanted to know if everybody really felt this horribly about it, and he told me he couldn’t remember exactly what I had said,” said Milbury.
I reached out to Bettman’s office and league spokesman John Dellapina said, “The commissioner received Mike’s call right before Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. When he was reminded of the specific language, Commissioner Bettman stood by our statement at the time.”
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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