I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Mike Milbury. Personally, I think he exists for the sole purpose of irritating Pierre McGuire and Jeremy Roenick, and he does an outstanding job at both. Admit it – you like to watch him annoy other people, especially McGuire and JR. You probably would have liked to have been there to see him grab hold of the kid that was picking on his son during practice. The video of him going after a fan with a shoe is funnier than Khrushchev going after the UN with the same thing. His quips (if you’d like to call them that) regarding the Sedin twins, European hockey players, and billions of other bits of knowledgeable insight are indispensable, if what you consider indispensable to be uninformed and obnoxious.
We all know people who are uninformed and obnoxious. None of us like to be around them, but we all enjoy watching them annoy others. Milbury equals ratings for NBC – regardless of what comes out of his mouth, like his most recent gems regarding the coaches arguments during Sunday’s Flyers/Pens game. Saying that a grown man needs to take off his skirt in reference to Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, and then insinuating that having assistant coach Tony Granato doing the fighting was like having your wife doing it was a bit much. As a woman, I wasn’t insulted considering I’ve shouted at grown men to “put on their big girl panties and play” numerous times. As a viewer, I thought that it was a bit much, but then again, it’s Milbury. You tune in expecting to get a blast of some incredibly stupid comment, and he rarely disappoints.
NBC shouldn’t punish him. He apologized (though whether it was genuine or a kind of “well, I need to clear the air before I say something else stupid” apology, no one knows). It’s done until the next foot-in-mouth moment pops up, which for all the viewers know will be tonight’s Red Wings/Blues game. Watching Milbury broadcast is like viewing a train-wreck. It’s hockey’s version of a bad reality TV show, and it brings in the ratings. Why in the world NBC would punish someone who regularly gets people talking about their broadcasts is beyond me.
Rewarding him specifically for his comments might not be the best idea either. Sure, he brings in ratings, but that — the increased viewership and attention — is the reward. Giving him too much attention might unleash a stupid-comment monster that NBC, the NHL, and the average viewer couldn’t handle. Milbury right now walks the line perfectly between “oh my God did he just say that?” and “huh, I hate to admit that, but he almost has a point there.” You want to keep him as a heel (pardon the pun), but you don’t want to turn him into a super villain. Saying that what he said is admirable for its honesty because Milbury’s name is attached to it (as opposed to those evil anonymous bloggers!*) isn’t true either — sure, it’s great that he doesn’t care that people know that he said it, but that’s not why he’s saying it, either. He’s saying it because he doesn’t have a filter. If someone pays him attention for something stupid that he said, it’s not a badge of honor, it’s him doing it because the attention gives him a happy.
Look at Milbury for what he is: that kid who knows he’s right but doesn’t care who he ticks off in the process of vocalizing it. He’s indespensible to NBC, sure, but that indespensibleness is reward enough.
For all of our sakes, it’s reward enough.
*note well the fact that my name is on every post here and everywhere else that I write.