Commentator, former GM, and ex-player Mike Milbury is a controversial figure known for his inflammatory comments and actions. One might say he's NBC's answer to Hockey Night in Canada's volatile, opinionated Don Cherry. Here's a look at the tumultuous and sometimes wacky history of the former Boston Bruins defenseman who played from 1976-87. He scored 49 goals and 238 points in 754 career games while chalking up 1,552 penalty minutes.
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In 1979, Milbury and his Bruins teammates invaded the stands at Madison Square Garden during an altercation with some loudly opinionated New York Rangers fans. Milbury achieved a certain distinction by pummeling a fan with the man's shoe.
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After hanging up his skates and shoe, Milbury became the Bruins' assistant general manager under Harry Sinden and was hailed as one of the NHL's bright young minds.
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In 1991, Milbury, then the Bruins' coach, caused a stink by including enforcer Chris Nilan and checker Brian Skrudland (inset) on the Wales Conference All-Star team instead of the more skilled Guy Lafleur and Kirk Muller. Neither Nilan nor Skrudland are able to play due to injury.
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In 1995, Milbury was named general manager of the New York Islanders, a once-proud franchise that had fallen on hard times, lousy ownership and ugly uniforms that reminded people of a certain leading brand of frozen seafood.
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During his 12-year tenure with the Islanders, Milbury occasionally took over behind the bench. After a full season as coach (1995-96) failed to produce a playoff berth, he returned to the front office in mid-season of 1996-97 only to replace his replacement, Rick Bowness (top inset), in the middle of 1997-98 before giving way to Bill Stewart (bottom inset) in 1998-99. No playoff berths resulted.
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Known for being somewhat blunt in his assessment of his players, Milbury made goaltender Tommy Salo cry during a contract negotiation.
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Among Milbury's more famous pronouncements was declaring during a particularly prolonged and frustrating contract dispute that it was unfortunate the agent for Islanders star Ziggy Palffy lived in a city because "he's depriving some small village of a pretty good idiot. We hope that Ziggy will come to his senses. We have no hope Paul Kraus will."
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Milbury gave himself the nickname "Mad Mike" after dealing franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen (inset) to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha on Draft Day 2000. Mad Mike would then draft goaltender Rick DiPietro first overall.
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Among Milbury's other mad, impulsive and constant trades were (clockwise from left) Bryan McCabe (1998), Todd Bertuzzi (1998), J.P. Dumont (1998), Bryan Berard (1999) and Eric Brewer (2000).
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Milbury's ultimate lollapalooza was dealing defenseman Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and the draft pick that became Jason Spezza to Ottawa in June 2001 for Alexei Yashin, a notorious underachiever. In his own defense, Milbury growled, "Mother Teresa would have a bad reputation in Ottawa with the way they've gone through coaches, players, managers." Senators GM Marshall Johnston was moved to reply, "Mike must have forgot to take his valium this morning."
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As the losing continued, "Mike Must Go!" chants were a staple at Nassau Coliseum whenever Milbury showed his face behind the bench or up in the GM's box.
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After two successive playoff appearances, Milbury stunned the Islanders' faithful by canning coach Peter Laviolette in May 2003. Going on the Mike & The Mad Dog sports talk radio show, Milbury was hit by a pointed question from host Chris Russo (inset): "How are you still the GM?!"
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As of June 2006, Milbury was no longer the GM, stepping down to take the role executive vice president as owner Charles Wang seemed to desire a little front office stability for his team.
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Milbury's next stop: the broadcast booth. A commentator for NBC, he often spars with fellow broadcasters Pierre McGuire (inset) and Jeremy Roenick. His infamous 1979 shoe incident was revisited between periods of the inaugural Winter Classic game broadcast from Buffalo on New Year's Day 2008.
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During the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, Milbury came to the NHL's defense when Tiger Woods suggested that no one watches hockey anymore. Milbury calls the golfer "Tiger Wuss" and threatens to send Pittsburgh Penguin forward Gary Roberts to give Woods a thrashing for his impudence.
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In rare form at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Mad Mike shocks his old pal J.R. while trashing Team Russia for bringing its "Eurotrash game...no heart, no guts, no nothing" to a 7-3 trouncing at the hands of Team Canada. Click here to revisit a true horror classic.
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During a Nov. 9, 2011 broadcast, Milbury stalks off the set after taking great exception to the Lightning's smothering 1-3-1 trap defense and the Flyers' attempts to draw them out of it by refusing to move the puck, which caused referee Chris Rooney to repeatedly blow his whistle and order face-offs. "I'm sick and I'm leaving in protest! This was ugly!" Milbury blusters. Indeed. Click here to watch the incident.
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On Dec. 16, 2011, the news breaks that Milbury is facing possible misdemeanor assault and battery charges for allegedly attacking a 12-year-old Pee Wee hockey player in Brookline, MA on December 9. The NBC/Versus broadcaster was serving as an assistant coach for his son's team when an altercation broke out between his son and an opposing player who Milbury allegedly grabbed, berated, threatened and shook. Milbury denied he did anything more than intervene, and after a hearing on Dec. 23, the court declined to press charges.
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A Flyers-Penguins line brawl on April Fools Day 2012 left Mad Mike in peak form. During an interview on a Philadelphia radio show, he accused Penguins coach Dan Bylsma of wearing a skirt and called Sidney Crosby a "punk" and "Goody Two Shoes." He also mocked Crosby's "35th concussion." Milbury later apologized, saying, "I reached out to (Pittsburgh president) David Morehouse and the Penguins about the comments I made yesterday on Philadelphia radio. In hindsight, I realize what I said was inappropriate and wrong, and I want to apologize to the Penguins organization and their fans." He did not apologize to Crosby or Bylsma, though.
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