All this fuss about the Pittsburgh/Philly brawl and then Mike Milbury has to chirp in with his two cents. Mike who? The guy who traded Chara. The guy who signed Yashin to a contract so long, the Islanders are still paying it today. Still not sure who I’m talking about? It’s the guy who jumped in the stands while playing for Boston in the 70s and beat a fan with his own shoe. It’s that guy. The idiot who just called Sidney Crosby a “punk” and told Dan Bylsma to take off his skirt. Mad Mike Milbury.
After looking at his extensive resume of ridiculous moves, it’s amazing Mike Milbury can even get a microphone to speak in that isn’t in his basement hooked up to karaoke machine. In fact, if he didn’t say such outrageous things, he’d be trapped in his basement with only his karaoke machine. But as it is, he’s free to trash whomever he wants, including Sidney Crosby, calling him “little goodie two-shoes” and a “punk,” then encouraging all NHL players to take a run at him, stating, “screw him, I say hit him.” Though I’m not sure why there is any surprise regarding Milbury’s recent comments; you can only expect a certain level of class and intelligence from a man that would parade into the stands of an NHL arena, fully dressed in his equipment, and beat a fan with his own shoe. It begs to question how he got a job in an NHL front office in the first place, particularly how he ended up as a GM. Lord knows the Islanders are still regretting that one.
So let’s examine the brilliance that is Mike Milbury, beginning with the NY Islanders…that should be more than enough. We will start chronologically.
Taking over as GM for the Islanders in 1995, Milbury was keen to make a splash right away…and he did. He chose defenseman Wade Redden with the Islanders’ 2nd overall pick. But that wasn’t the splash. The splash came when he turned around and traded Redden to the Senators along with goalie Damien Rhodes for Don Beaupre, Martin Straka and Bryan Berard. While this wasn’t the worst trade ever made, it certainly wasn’t the best. Wade Redden, in 1995, was a stud future defenseman, and Martin Straka and Bryan Berard had yet to play a full season. Yes, Berard went on to a Calder, but he only played in New York for four seasons, being traded away to Toronto in 1999. What was left of the Wade Redden deal, was Wade Redden being a huge success in Ottawa…a sign of things to come for Milbury and the Islanders.
Not long later, the young man Milbury heralded as the next big power forward for the Islanders was Todd Bertuzzi. But after underacheiving in his rookie year and being ridden too hard by Milbury, Mad Mike traded Big Bert along with another young defenseman, Bryan McCabe and a 3rd round pick (which turned out to be Jarko Ruutu) to Vancouver, for veteran Trevor Linden on deadline day. This after proclaiming both players as the future of the franchise. Mike loves to make a splash…apparently an aging Trevor Linden was a splash.
In 2000, the Islanders had the #1 overall pick. Milbury could have taken Dany Heatley or Marion Gaborik. Instead, he chose to take Rick Dipietro. Yes, the same Rick Dipietro that hasn’t played a full season since the puck was invented. Did I mention the Islanders already had a very young Roberto Luongo between the pipes in 2000? Well they did…and because Mike Milbury had just drafted their new goalie of the future in Dipietro, he subsequently traded Luongo aaaannnd Olli Jokinen to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha – who? Exactly. Luongo reacted the way many did, “I didn’t expect it at all. One day they’re telling me I’m their goalie of the future, and the next day I’m gone.” I don’t think this move needs any more explanation. It’s simply terrible.
Let’s look forward, just one year later to another up and comer by the name of Zdeno Chara. He was an awkward young Slovakian who wasn’t quite grown in to his massive body. He needed time to learn how to work with his go-go-gadget arms and legs without killing the fans and players around him…but New York was not the place for Zdeno to develop his gadgetry. An impatient Milbury shipped him off, again on draft day, along with the Islanders 2nd overall pick (which turned out to be Jason Spezza), to the Senators in return for Alexei Yashin…a man who needs no introduction. Shunned to the KHL, he’s still getting money from the Islanders…all thanks to Mike Milbury. That was quite the splash.
In fact, with all that splashing, it amazes me that Mike Milbury lasted until 2006 with the Islanders. With a list of moves like that, it’s no wonder the Islanders are still struggling to get out of the cellar. Consider this, if Milbury hadn’t done anything, the Islanders would have barged in to the millenium with Luongo between the pipes, Redden, Chara and McCabe on defense, and Bertuzzi, Spezza, Jokinen and either Heatley or Gaborik up front. Logic shows the Islanders would have been better off with no GM than with Mike Milbury. Logic also shows Milbury has no logic…and yet still, people listen to him. Karaoke anyone?