NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury deserves credit for his recent comments about Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, because it's not often you see someone drop an Adam Ant reference in criticizing an NHL star.
Otherwise, his rant on Sports Radio 94WIP in Philadelphia on Monday about "Goody Two Shoes" Crosby is about as revelatory as claiming hockey is played on frozen water. From WIP, via the CP, here's Milbury on Crosby's role during that melee between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday:
"Little goody two shoes (Crosby) goes into the corner and gives a shot to [Braydon] Schenn. Schenn was late to the party, he should have turned around and drilled him right away, but I guess better late than never," said Milbury, who is an analyst on CBC and NBC.
"So you know, Crosby gets cross-checked, big whoop. 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 this scrums, I'm going to stay away from that stuff.' He couldn't help himself because there's a little punk in Crosby.
"He's not the perfect gentleman. He's not the sweet kid you see in interviews with his hat pulled down over his eyes. I'd say screw him, hit him."
There's a great line from "White Men Can't Jump" where Wesley Snipes is talking about Jimi Hendrix: "Look man, you can listen to Jimi but you can't hear him. There's a difference man. Just because you're listening to him doesn't mean you're hearing him."
Based on his assessment of Crosby, I'm convinced Mike Milbury has seen Sidney Crosby play in the NHL; I'm not convinced he's watched him.
Who, in 2012, still believes Sidney Crosby is "goody two shoes"?
Crosby wasn't the perfect gentleman in 2008 when he speed-bagged Boris Valabik from behind during a scrum. He wasn't the perfect gentleman when he appeared to slew foot Ryan Callahan of the Rangers in 2010, which prompted Brandon Dubinsky to call him a dirty player. Remember Dave Steckel's fateful collision with Crosby in the Winter Classic? It was preceded by an un-penalized Crosby slash to Matt Hendricks. Hell, he has a longer HockeyFights.com bio than Ovechkin.
Crosby's not a rat, but he is a rink rat. He'll go to the tough spots on the ice, fight for pucks, battle around the crease. This notion that he doesn't get his hands dirty is fiction.
So is this notion that Crosby has ever said, "I'm not going to do this anymore, I'm not going to get into this scrums, I'm going to stay away from that stuff."
When? Where? The most demonstrative thing he's said about hitting in the game was that he wanted to see an end to hit to the head, which is something even Milbury's come around on. The same guy Milbury claims is a goody-two-shoes who wants the nasty stuff removed from the game went to bat for Niklas Kronwall as a clean hitter in an interview on NBC. Milbury must have missed it.
Milbury isn't everyone's particular brand of vodka. That's fine.
I think his role works as a Bostonian bloviater who brings a calculated cantankerous take to otherwise vanilla proceedings on NBC. Before he had some kind of concussion crisis instigated come-to-Hockey-Jesus moment about violence in hockey, he was the leading voice for entertaining barbarism; which, again, is a welcomed counterpoint in the mainstream hockey media.
Also, he has a unique gift for pissing off Pierre McGuire, a talent which should eventually result in a Congressional medal in Milbury's honor.
Where Milbury goes off the rails is when he believes his criticism is both incendiary and insightful when it's all the former and none of the latter. When he gets sloppy and lazy.
Calling the Sedins "Thelma and Louise" is controversial; it also makes no [expletive] sense.
Claiming Sidney Crosby is a dirty player and a little punk on a Philadelphia radio station is controversial; believing that this should be news to anyone that's followed Crosby's career is misguided.
Crosby's always had these shades of gray. He's never been the Golden Boy. It's one of the reasons he's the NHL's most popular and divisive player: Awe-inspiring talent mixed with an attitude and behavior that'll agitate you with the fury of 1,000 Esa Tikkanens.
He's the kind of player Milbury will love when he realizes he's raging against a reputation Crosby's hasn't had since he was a rookie.
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