NHL analyst Mike Milbury landed himself in hot water yesterday after making several disparaging comments about Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Byalsma and captain Sidney Crosby, which forced Milbury to issue an apology today for his comments.
“I reached out to (Pittsburgh Penguins President) David Morehouse and the Penguins about the comments I made yesterday on Philadelphia radio.” Milbury said in a statement. “In hindsight, I realize what I said was inappropriate and wrong, and I want to apologize to the Penguins organization and their fans.”
Milbury made the comments yesterday while he was a guest on Sports Radio 94WIP in Philadelphia when he was asked to comment on the line braw that occurred between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. Milbury stated that Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma “should have taken off his skirt” and done more to confront Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette at the end of the game. He also commented on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby’s role in the melee.
“Crosby gets cross-checked, big whoop,” Milbury said during the interview. “He said after he came back from his 35th concussion, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to get into those scrums, I’m going to stay away from that stuff’ but he couldn’t help himself because there is a little punk in Crosby. He’s not the perfect gentleman, he’s not that little sweet kid you see in all those interviews with his hat pulled down over his eyes. I say screw him, hit him.”
While the Penguins and Flyers share a heated rivalry, things turned ugly during Sunday’s contest when Flyers forward Brayden Schenn cross-checked Crosby from behind, knocking the captain to the ice, while both players were skating to the bench during a stoppage in play in the third period. After the Flyers secured their 6-4 victory with an empty-net goal, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma sent his fourth line out onto the ice. Things got really heated when Penguins forward Joe Vitale crushed Flyers forward Danny Briere with a clean, open-ice hit that sparked both sides to come together and drop gloves. Amidst the commotion on the ice, both head coaches came together and started yelling back and forth in a very heated exchange.
“Those guys hadn’t been out there in 12 minutes,” Laviolette said of Bylsma’s decision to put his fourth line players on the ice when the game had already been decided. “It’s a gutless move by their coach. It’s gutless.”
While there was plenty of finger pointing after Sunday’s game, Milbury’s commentary went well beyond that of Laviolette and escalated the situation to a personal level by taking shots at Bylsma and Crosby specifically. Still, many fans support what Milbury had to say and disagree with his decision to apologize for his comments.
“Apart from the 35th concussion comment, Milbury is not wrong,” commented one user with the handle pegcitymadman on TSN. “Crosby plays a bratty style of hockey, and I don’t mean by retaliating to cheap plays. He gets hit clean, he swings his stick. He gets knocked over, he looks at the ref in disbelief. He cheap shots a guy and they retaliate, he flops down and looks at the ref. If he doesn’t change from this path he will not be around in 3 years. Players will not show him any mercy.”
However, the Penguins’ staff saw nothing funny or enlightening about Milbury’s comments, especially related to Crosby’s concussions that have kept him sidelined for the majority of two seasons.
“It’s fine to have an opinion on players but when you’re making light of concussions, that’s not right,” said Penguins general manager Ray Shero. “There’s nothing funny about [former Flyers captain] Keith Primeau having to retire from it. This is an issue that is at the forefront of our league right now and to make light of these concussions is a real lame attempt at humor. (Milbury) should know better than this.”
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