Mike Milbury: Does a Personal Dislike for a Player Really Belong on the Air?

Kevin van SteendelaarAnalyst IDecember 19, 2008

It's a cold Thursday evening, and I'm propped in front of the television anticipating a good game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens on a rare regular season weekday edition of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

The night's broadcast team consisted of veteran play-by-play man Jim Hughson, essentially the new go to man for HNIC, and former player/coach/GM Mike Milbury.

Now while Mr. Hughson will speak his opinion of the play of a team as a whole, he will not project his personal feelings towards an individual player.

His counterpart Thursday night did just that. It's no argument that, being a native of Massachusetts and a former Boston Bruin, Mr. Milbury has no love of the Montreal Canadiens or their fans. In fact, he still holds a grudge over the humiliation his team felt in the late 70's during their playoff battles.

He even posted this little blurb on the Canadiens 100th anniversary.

You could have at least said congratulations Mr. Milbury.

Back to the game, where the analysts' primary focus was on the Canadiens star winger, Alex Kovalev. 

Throughout most of the game, Milbury called him everything from lazy and not a real star, to selfish 85 percent of the time, even after he slipped past the Flyers defence to score a breakaway goal and earn his 900th career point.

Up to the game prior, Kovalev had been on a major goal-scoring drought, and on some nights had Canadiens fans pulling their hair out when it would appear he was trying to do things himself.

Regardless, Kovalev is tied for the team scoring lead and the acting captain in absence of Saku Koivu. If coach Guy Carbonneau felt the way Mr. Milbury did, Kovalev would not be wearing the C, now would he?

Mr. Milbury even attempted to note Kovalev's lack of defence when they showed a replay of him racing back to the play after "getting caught", as Milbury put it, in the offensive end. Hughson quickly noted that Kovalev had just been on a forecheck that forced the Flyers defender to just dump the puck up the ice.

The rest of the game, Milbury would acknowledge that Kovalev was a "talent", but even Hughson could not resist acknowledging Milbury's disdain the rest of the evening.

Now like I said, if a player is in a slump, he's in a slump, and nine times out of 10 he will snap out of it. But to criticize a player consistently in the manner that he did is just not right.

Maybe Mr. Milbury is just bitter he could never sign Mr. Kovalev.

But then again, Mr. Milbury has been a former NHL player, with no Stanley Cups (Kovalev has 1), a coach with a won-loss record somewhere around 133-131, and a GM with a great track record  ( http://hfboards.com/archive/index.php/t-50095 speaking of lazy...Alexei Yashin).

So what do I know, right?