The short answer is an emphatic, NO! Milbury’s assessment of Sidney Crosby and Dan Bylsma overstepped certain boundaries and was inexcusable, even for a lively personality such as Milbury. Calling Crosby “a little punk” and chastising Dan Bylsma for not engaging Peter Laviolette in a physical fashion was just outright illogical and against the grain of what the NHL is trying to do with initiatives such as “You Can Play”. Mike Milbury might not be known as one of the reserved NHL personalities, but his comments have no place in the modern-day NHL.
Milbury might have caught wind of such sentiments as he issued a statement on Tuesday night:
“I reached out to [Pittsburgh president] David Morehouse and the Penguins about the comments I made yesterday on Philadelphia radio,” Milbury said. “In hindsight, I realize what I said was inappropriate and wrong, and I want to apologize to the Penguins organization and their fans.”
Milbury’s apology was a baby step in the right direction, but the NHL should still try to pursue some sort of action that will prevent Mad Mike from lashing out so often. Even though Sidney Crosby has constantly been in the media spotlight throughout his NHL career, he is the face of hockey in North America and does not deserve such critical comments. At this point and time, Milbury’s apology seems as transparent as a sheet of tracing paper.
One simply should not try to humiliate an individual because of their problems with a certain injury and Milbury is certainly not above the rule of law. With continued research into CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and its effects on athletes, there is no room for Milbury’s comments about Crosby’s battle with concussions and concussion-like symptoms.
A simple apology just isn’t enough this time and somebody must step up in this situation. With the NHL evolving and trying to raise their ratings and viewership, the league cannot afford to have individuals such as Milbury tarnishing its efforts and reputation. The NHL is also trying to get rid of dangerous hits and is attempting to promote the longevity of its athletes’ lives in the wake of the deaths of players such as Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard, and Rick Rypien. Suggesting that Crosby is “a little punk” because he responds to the environment around him is also absurd. As a hockey player, Crosby is supposed to generate offense for the Penguins and opponents more than take note of Sid’s skill set and ability. If anything, Sidney Crosby is one of the most targeted players in the NHL as opponents know Sid’s injury history and know that he can be prone to a recurrence of symptoms if he is hit in a certain area.
When asked about the comments, Crosby responded:
“My style is not different than a lot of guys to be honest,” Crosby said. “I think if you’re to look at the way I play, when I play the game I play to create offense and to score goals. If you are to dissect everything and show my responses to certain things sometimes, yeah I do certain things out there. But they’re usually in response to two or three things that have been done prior to that. But you don’t usually see that, you just usually see the response.”
Sidney Crosby has worked hard to get to where he is today, but Milbury simply does not seem to want to acknowledge that minor factoid. Even if Crosby might not be the model player, who is Mike Milbury to criticize him? How can the man who jumped into the stands to beat a fan with his own shoe degrade a player who wants to play the game that he loves and help his team win?
This is obviously not the last time that someone criticizes Sidney Crosby for one thing or another, but this should be the last time that Milbury, or any analyst or announcer, is allowed to blow some steam off in such a fashion.
Before his comments on Crosby, hockey fans might have remembered Milbury’s most recent heated debate with Jeremy Roenick. If not, here’s a bit of a refresher below:
Milbury has always been one to stand up for his point of view, but his routine is getting to be predictable at this point. It is always entertaining to watch someone debate on a topic that they are passionate about, but Mike Milbury seems to be passionate about the wrong things.
This probably isn’t the last that NHL fans have heard of Mike Milbury, but Mad Mike should make a concerted effort on his behalf to help the NHL improve in the modern-day. Milbury must help the sport transcend and increase viewership, but he must do it in an acceptable and collected fashion. It would speak volumes of Milbury’s character if he could temper his reactions and contribute to the NHL in a positive way. After all, Milbury has been around long enough to know the current state of the NHL and that he is paid to be an analyst, not a shock-jockey.