Many who tuned into Hockey Night in Canada’s Hotstove segment during the second intermission of Blackhawks-Maple Leafs on Saturday night were baffled by what they saw: Mike Milbury on their TV screen coming out against fighting. Yes the same Mike Milbury who coined the term “wussifing” to describe those people who wanted fighting and head shots out of the game. Well we think it was the same Milbury at least. I’m sure some people tuned in and thought that the real Milbury had already made the trip to New York, where he would work NBC’s Sunday afternoon game, and he had been replaced by a double who was the anti-Milbury on Hockey Night.
I’ve always said that Milbury is one of the smartest analysts in the business. He gets a bit of a bad rep because he looks really bad when you place him next to Glenn Healy or Pierre McGuire. But on Saturday night when CBC gave Milbury a couple minutes to speak his mind he made more sense than he ever has before. His best point was probably that the guy who played 1 minute a game and sits in the penalty box for 5 or 10, in other words the “full time” fighter, needs to be removed from the game in some way. Ron MacLean countered that they are there to “police” the game and protect the stars, which I don’t agree with at all. If there were penalties in place against dirty hits, then you wouldn’t need anybody to protect the stars. Just look at the Olympics, World Juniors etc. Canadians love those events even though there is no fighting.
The question that I’m asking is why Milbury had the sudden change of heart. The best answer I can come up with is that it was the news that broke earlier this week that Bob Probert had a degenerative brain disease caused by too many concussions. Many of Probert’s concussions were as a result of fighting. Probert died last summer because of a heart attack at the age of 45. I think that this had a huge effect on not only Milbury, but just about every other proponent of fighting in hockey. It will be interesting to see how Milbury follows up these comments in future weeks on CBC, NBC and Versus. You can see the entire Hotstove segment here.
Other News & Notes
- The Davis Cup made its Canadian TV debut on the weekend on Rogers Sportsnet as Canada travelled to Mexico City to take on Mexico. Sportsnet’s coverage came off a bit amateurish, even though it wasn’t their fault. The international TV feed from Mexico was only 4:3 standard definition. Countries in Central and South America have been among the slowest moving at bringing in HDTV. Rob Faulds seemed to do okay as the play by play, but calling a feed of monitor in standard definition can’t be easy. I’ve never been a huge fan of Robert Bettauer when he was a courtside analyst for TSN, and I still don’t like him at Sportsnet. It would be nice if Sportsnet went out and got Peter Burwash for their Rogers Cup coverage.
- All three hours of The Fan 590’s flagship show Primetime Sports will be simulcast on Sportsnet One beginning today. Sportsnet Ontario will also simulcast the final hour.
- CBC’s Tara Teigan did an excellent job doing analysis on the snowboarding World Cup event in Calgary on the weekend. She showed disbelief when Zhang Yiwei was only put in 3rd place by the FIS judges, despite being the only competitor to land a doublecork (3 spins, two flips) all competition. The crowd booed the judges. For anyone looking for a reason the snowboarding community hates FIS, this is it.
- I have been told that Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire will call tonight’s Lightning-Capitals game on Versus. The game will be seen in Canada on TSN2.
- If you are looking for TV schedules, those can now be found on the right hand side of the page. They are all still there.