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Mad Mike Milbury’s act is obsolete

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Mad Mike Milbury often slings sexist cliches like “hit ‘em with your purse.” (Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP)

By Stu Hackel

At some point, Mike Milbury is going to have to come to terms with the 21st Century. His future employment as a hockey opinionist on television may depend on it, but the contemporary world is obviously not one in which he is comfortable or happy.

For a few years, since he left the employ of Charles Wang and the Islanders — we won’t bother rehashing his many questionable moves as Isles GM other than to say they were how he picked up, and even embraced, his nickname “Mad Mike” — Milbury has done triple duty as a studio voice on Hockey Night in Canada, NESN and NBC/Versus/NBC Sports Network. It’s a passionate voice, that’s for sure, and hockey is a passionate game. On the surface, it seems like a good match.

Milbury’s problem is that his passions too often go unchecked. He clearly has trouble controlling himself when the camera is on and the mic is live, and he says things that reveal thoughts that really don’t do his image much good. He may not care about that, but he’s also a spokesman for the networks who employ him and the sport he’s worked in for pretty much his entire career. In those capacities, he is not exactly a shining representative.

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  • Published On Apr 04, 2012
  • New Quebec arena heats relocation talk

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    Habs fans want Patrick Roy to be Montreal’s next coach or GM, but his connection to Quebec City, where he’s the owner/bench boss of the junior Remparts, makes his return unlikely. (Leon T. Switzer/ Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    For a few years now, every time NHL executives have been questioned about the possibility of the league returning a team to Quebec City, they’ve responded the same way: There are no teams available right now, and even if there were, the absence of a suitable arena makes it unlikely. But all that changed on Sunday when the city’s mayor and a corporate executive signed a long-anticipated deal on a new building. Ground is scheduled to be broken this fall and the arena will be ready in the fall of 2015.

    That’s not an insignificant date. It coincides with the expiration of the lease that keeps the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Of course, it’s also possible that the team now known as the Phoenix Coyotes will be ready at that time to move into the new Quebecor Colisee. The new Nordiques (or whatever they will be called) will have played the intervening three years in the old Pepsi Colisee, which is scheduled to get $7 million in emergency improvements starting this spring.

    Of course,  the Coyotes could move elsewhere, or maybe not move at all. And it’s possible that Quebec City’s new arena will not have an NHL tenant when it opens. But considering the delirious return of the NHL to Winnipeg last year, not too many people believe the league will forego a chance to create more delirium as soon as it can.

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  • Published On Mar 26, 2012
  • Nash non-deal turns into soap opera

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    Players on at least one other NHL team are wondering why Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson treated Rick Nash as he did by revealing the star’s trade request and possibly damaging his reputation as a team leader. ( Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Amidst all the deals that were made leading up to the NHL deadline (including the 16 trades and two waiver claims on Monday), the ones that didn’t happen prompted the biggest reaction, causing some to declare the day boring — which it was by some standards.

    But it wasn’t boring in Columbus, even though Rick Nash remains a Blue Jacket. The fallout from that will probably put more focus on that franchise than it has ever had, and not for a good reason.

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  • Published On Feb 28, 2012
  • LIVE BLOGGING Trade Deadline 2012

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    Rick Nash, at the center of this year’s deadline intrigue, will not be going anywhere until the summer. (Kathy Willens/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    5 PM: Well, let’s try to wrap this up. Not many trades. The biggest news might be who didn’t get moved and not just Nash. Also lots of guys rumored to be moving stayed up, which speaks to our general thinking about rumors. (Cue Marvin Gaye singing “People say believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear” From “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”) But the Vancouver-Buffalo deal, Hodgson for Kassian was a big one, and because the players are so young, it may have reverberations for seasons to come.

    We’ll let the dust settle here and take a look at this whole thing tomorrow here on Red Light and see what has changed, what hasn’t and what it might mean. Thanks for hanging with us, and lots of you did. It was fun.

    4:46 PM: New NYR defenseman/forward/pugalist John Scott says (per Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune tweet). “I thought I’d be the last person to get traded. I’m excited to go to New York but also sad to leave Chicago. I just had a baby a couple of months ago. It will be tough to pack up and leave everything.”

    4:44 PM: NHLN’s E.J. Hradek tweets, “Howson comment likely spurred by the Saturday remarks by Nash agent Joe Resnick, which was an effort 2 squeeze the team into making deal now”

    4:42 PM: SI’s Sarah Kwak tweets, “Howson admitting Nash asked for trade opens up more options for trade later. Nash won’t nix very much to get outta there now.”

    4:32 PM: Quite a statement by Scott Howson that Rick Nash asked to be traded. Never heard that before, in fact, the thinking was Nash would never make that request. Now Nash has to be captain of a team that he wanted to leave? Jeez, that’s not a good situation.

    4:29 PM: For Red Wings fans, George Malik of Kukla’s Korner linked to GM Ken Holland interview http://dlvr.it/1FlmRy

    4:25 PM: Howson won’t say how many teams made offers for Nash, only that he had “substantial” discussions today. “The price was high. I don’t apologize for that. It had to be high.”

    4:21 PM: Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson addressing media says they made big steps this week. Regarding Nash, he had approached the CBJ to consider trading him. Howson said what was offered was not in team’s best interest. “We will continue to keep all our options open to improve our hockey club in the coming months.”

    4:19 PM: Pittsburgh GM Shero: “We were not active today. Nobody going, nobody coming. Our roster is our roster going forward”

    4:15 PM: Chicago GM Stan Bowman on Oduya: “His style really fits in with what we do here.”

    4:14 PM: From Mike Farber: “The Winnipeg Jets took a piece off their roster in D-man Johnny Oduya, but he is able to walk as a UFA after the season. Great pick-up of a pair of draft choices. Winnipeg is in a unique position. The Jets are playing with house money. Maybe they make the playoffs. Maybe not. But in either case, they gave added nicely to their inventory. “

    4:10 PM You can’t discount the fact that the deals that have been made earlier this month have had an impact. Nor can you dismiss the ongoing importance of the salary cap in keeping some teams from making deals, and the financial restrictions other teams have.

    4:08 PM: Plus, some teams did make some very interesting moves that change their team going forward. And more will be done around the draft.

    4:04 PM:  There are 14 trades confirmed so far today, certainly less than some of the crazier days in the last few years. Lots of talk that the day is overhyped (Jay Feaster just said that in his press conf. and Brian Burke has implied it as well), that there are too many teams asking for unrealisitic prices, over valuing players, which is why the deals don’t get made. But it’s also about parity in the league, GMs not wanting to break up the chemistry on their teams.

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  • Published On Feb 27, 2012
  • Can Erik Karlsson win the Norris?

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    Only 21, Erik Karlsson has blossomed into the NHL’s best offensive defenseman. (JC Salas/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s a bit too early to say whether Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson will be one of the NHL’s three Stars of the Week next Monday — and because it will be trade deadline day, who is even going to notice? — but he’s got a great head start with seven points in his last six periods of play.  With his goal and two assists in Ottawa’s 5-2 win over Washington on Wednesday night, Karlsson leads all NHL defenseman in scoring with 60 points — 20 more than his closest pursuer, Florida’s Brian Campbell.

    Karlsson’s 47th assist on Wednesday set a new Sens franchise record, breaking Norm Maciver’s mark of 46 set during the team’s inaugural campaign of 1992-93. He’s now only three points shy of Maciver’s team mark of 63 points by a d-man in a season.

    Playing in a small market is part of the reason Karlsson hasn’t gotten the acclaim he should. It doesn’t help matters when NBC’s Mike Milbury touts him for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, as Milbury did last night, either not realizing that Karlsson has already played two full seasons or perhaps confusing him with Devils rookie Adam Larsson.

    Karlsson is just 21, and obviously doesn’t have the name recognition nor resume of Shea Weber, Nick Lidstrom or Zdeno Chara. But he has zoomed to the top ranks of blueliners this season. Last season (yes, Karlsson indeed played last season), he was a minus-30 on a poor, directionless team. Today, he’s plus-15 on an excellently coached club that is one of the NHL’s surprises — and he’s a big reason why they are.

    So the inescapable question is, should Karlsson be the favorite for the Norris Trophy as top NHL defenseman?

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  • Published On Feb 23, 2012
  • Ovechkin dims his own star

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    The NHL All-Star Game was once a stage for Alexander Ovechkin’s fun-loving persona and electric skills. (Lou Capozzola/SI; Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Fans of the Detroit Red Wings may be a bit puzzled today by NHL justice. Three years ago, Wings stars Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were suspended by the NHL for one game when they declined to take part in the All-Star festivities in Montreal. But yesterday, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin declined to take part in the upcoming All-Star festivities in Ottawa and he’s not going to be punished.

    Well, actually, Ovie’s already suspended (more on that below), but not for the All-Star Game. He still could have gone to Ottawa and participated, but he elected not to. Yet, he’ll face no discipline. And the reason seems to be, well, that things have changed with regard to the All-Star Game.

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  • Published On Jan 25, 2012
  • Ken Dryden’s anti-concussions mission

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    Will there come a time when people look back and wonder why more wasn’t done to stop concussions? (Chaz Palla/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    It was another bad week for concussions in the NHL. Sidney Crosby, who many hoped would be back in the Penguins’ lineup by now, is still unable to practice. Unsure of his return, he sought help from a specialist in Atlanta and is seeing another in California. Center Danny Briere was concussed in Saturday’s game against the Devils. He’s the sixth Flyer to suffer that injury this season.  Teammate James van Riemsdyk is still sidelined; Chris Pronger is out for the rest of the season, maybe longer, and his wife Lauren went public with their struggles (video). The Jets’ leading goal scorer, Evander Kane, joined the ranks late last week. The Bruins’ Marc Savard (photo above), whose career is in doubt after repeated concussions, disclosed the problems he’s having with headaches and memory.

    When 28 players were concussed in December, we titled our post on the subject  “An Awful Month for NHL Concussions.” The way Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden sees it, however, it would be a mistake to believe that this epidemic of head injuries is a temporary condition, and that the game will get past it the way one gets over a cold. We’re better off thinking that this painful situation is the way things in the NHL will continue to be.

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  • Published On Jan 23, 2012
  • Messy Cammalleri trade another hard chapter in Habs’ season of calamity

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    Forward Mike Cammalleri was swiftly and unceremoniously dispatched from Montreal after making unflattering public remarks about the struggling Canadiens. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    For all their triumphant history and tradition, which are unmatched in hockey and rivaled by very few in all of sports worldwide, the Montreal Canadiens are at a low point. All teams have their cycles, so perhaps this is the downside of the glory decades that is catching up with them. For those who envy, even hate, the Habs, that’s happy news, although it’s never really good for any sport when a marquee franchise struggles.

    Not all of Montreal’s struggles are on the ice, although they start there. We’ve chronicled them at various points this season as events transpired (here, here and here) and things looked to be unraveling.

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  • Published On Jan 13, 2012
  • NHLPA has valid realignment concerns

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    NHLPA boss Don Fehr’s reputation as a tough negotiator has many hockey observers spooked. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    There is much hand wringing and concern about the NHLPA’s non-consent to the NHL’s much-publicized, highly touted and radical realignment. A widely held belief is that the union’s refusal to agree to the plan was all about the upcoming negotiations on collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires in early September and, yes, there are reasons to believe a new one won’t be reached easily. Some observers believe the 2012-13 season won’t start on time.

    But, to my mind, the NHLPA’s refusal was less about the upcoming negotiations per se and more about living under the current CBA, which gives the players various rights concerning the conditions of their employment. For longer in its history than not, the NHLPA didn’t do much with these rights and rubber-stamped the NHL’s proposals or didn’t even bother to question them. But by insisting on raising realignment issues that troubled the union, the NHLPA has indicated it’s not going to function that way any longer.

    For that, you can thank or blame (depending on your orientation) Donald Fehr. The NHLPA’s executive director has more experience with issues like working conditions than anyone on either side of the labor-management divide, having begun his association with baseball’s players union almost four decades ago. He also has a better handle on how to rally and communicate with the troops — no easy task — than any of his predecessors. That’s why the NHL players, who had been in chaos since the lockout ended, wanted him to lead them. Because of that chaos, they’re likely to play closer attention than they did before.

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  • Published On Jan 09, 2012
  • Can NHL do more about concussions?

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    The Flyers are showing signs that they’ll remain competitive after the loss of captain Chris Pronger, but the NHL still has work to do in preventing harmful head contact. (Christopher Szagola-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    When the Flyers traded for Chris Pronger during the 2009 draft, GM Paul Holmgren said, “I made it sort of clear I would like to get a hammer, a guy who makes life miserable for the other team. This is one of those guys.”

    Today, that hammer is broken, perhaps for good.
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  • Published On Dec 16, 2011


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