Photo: Awful Announcing
During his playing days, current NBC studio analyst Mike Milbury was tough as nails: he actually climbed into the stands and hit a fan with their own shoe! But during his time as an analyst, Milbury has time after time berated the Caps after lack of production or what he believes to be a lack of effort. His infamous rants have become something to expect, whether talking about the Caps or not; these have included calling John Scott a “cheap shot artist” and criticizing the Buffalo Sabres for employing him, Matt Cooke a “skunk”, saying the San Jose Sharks should send Joe Thornton to the AHL, ripping Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin for a lack of effort, and most recently, tearing into Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik for late hit on Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta, calling him a “predator”, basically making the implication Orpik deliberately went after Maatta. But when it comes to the Capitals, very rarely does Milbury say something good. NoVa Caps is looking at why Milbury seems to dislike Washington.
Milbury is so disliked by NHL fans, that there is a petition started to remove him from his posts. The petition, slated to be sent to NBCSN, the NHL, and NBC, cites Milbury’s “rude and demeaning manner” as one of the biggest reasons he should be removed from his position. Many fans believe that Milbury is unfit for his job and want him out.
In regards to the Caps, one possible theory is that, somewhere in his days as a coach or general manager, he had a bad experience of some sort with the team. Ovechkin once said “I think Milbury doesn’t like Russians”. Coming from one of the game’s most influential players, that’s saying a lot. Is it possible, though? The Capitals have four Russian players on the team (Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stanislav Galiev, and Dmitry Orlov), three (Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Orlov) who see regular playing time. The Capitals have been known to employ Russian players in the past (Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov, and Viktor Kozlov come to mind). In 2010, Milbury called Russia’s brand of hockey “Eurotrash”, further exemplifying his rudeness and careless attitude. But perhaps the biggest clue to what appears to be a dislike for European players comes from his days as General Manager of the New York Islanders. In the early years of his tenure on Long Island, “Mad Mike”, as he was known, drafted a bevy of European players (including plenty of Russians) that failed miserably to make an impact on the NHL.
The list included unrecognizable names such as Vladimir Gorbunov, Dmitri Upper, Dmitri Altaryov, and Roman Kukhtinov. His failure to draft successfully may have caused him to believe that European/Russian players aren’t able to play the NHL brand of hockey to its fullest extent. No matter the reason, Milbury clearly has disdain for the Caps. Whether Ovechkin or the entire team, he isn’t afraid to show his true colors.
By Michael Fleetwood