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Mike Milbury (born June 17, 1952) is an American former professional ice hockey player currently working as an analyst for the NHL on NBC. He played for twelve seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL), all of them for the Boston Bruins. He later served as assistant general manager under Harry Sinden and head coach for Boston, as well as general manager and head coach for the New York Islanders.


Playing career[]

Colgate University[edit][]

Milbury was a three-year letterman at Colgate University from 1972 to 1974. A defenseman who wore uniform number 7, he was the team's co-leader in assists with 19 in his junior year. As senior captain, he had his best season with the Red Raiders with 30 points (4 goals, 26 assists). He also led the squad in penalty minutes in both campaigns with 68 in 1973 and 85 in 1974. His totals in 76 games played were 6 goals, 55 assists, 61 points and 203 penalty minutes.[1]

Boston Bruins[]

Immediately after the conclusion of his college hockey career, Milbury played in five games with the Boston Braves, the Bruins' top farm team, in 1974. He signed with the Bruins as a free agent on November 5, 1974, and spent the next two campaigns with the Rochester Americans, the team's new American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate.[2] In both seasons he led the club in penalty minutes with 246 in 1975 and 199 in 1976, finishing fourth and third respectively in the AHL.[3][4]

He was promoted to the Bruins late in the 1975–76 season, playing in eleven of twelve Stanley Cup playoff matches. Prior to the following NHL campaign, he was a member of the United States team at the inaugural 1976 Canada Cup, getting a goal and three assists in five contests.[2]

In his first three full years with the Bruins, his heavily aggressive style of play was a perfect fit for the overachieving team coached by Don Cherry and featuring similar tough players such as Terry O'Reilly, John Wensink and Stan Jonathan. Milbury helped his team reach consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in 1977 and 1978, with Boston losing both times to the Montreal Canadiens in four and six games respectively.

In his twelve seasons as a defenseman for the Bruins, he appeared in the postseason eleven times. He accumulated more than 200 penalty minutes in 1981 (222) and 1983 (216) and surpassed 100 six other times. He also served as the club's representative with the NHL Players' Association and was outspoken on several controversial issues, notably the role of Alan Eagleson.[2]

Coaching/executive career[]

Milbury is well known in the National Hockey League for his controversial style,

Boston College[]

On March 30, 1994, Boston College announced that Mike Milbury would take over as the head coach of the hockey team, replacing Steve Cedorchuk.[5] However, Milbury abruptly left the job at Boston College before coaching a game, citing "philosophical differences" with the school's athletics department in a press conference held on June 2, 1994.[6] BC eventually hired legendary coach Jerry York, then the head coach at Bowling Green University, to replace Milbury, while Milbury took work as a television analyst.[7]

Boston Bruins[]

He became head coach of the Boston Bruins in the 1989–90 season, leading the team to the Presidents' Trophy and an appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. He was named Executive of the Year by the Sporting News.

He was the head coach of the Wales Conference team at the 1991 All-Star Game, where he generated some controversy by including enforcer Chris Nilan and checker Brian Skrudland ahead of players such as Kirk Muller and Guy Lafleur. However, Nilan and Skrudland both missed the game due to injury. As a result of Milbury's controversial roster picks, the league's board of governors changed their policy so that future teams would be chosen by committee.[8]

New York Islanders[]

Milbury was hired as the Islanders' coach in 1995 and within three months became the general manager as well, but he turned the coaching duties over to Rick Bowness in January 1997.[9] During several of the years that Milbury served as Islanders GM, the team's ownership mandated that he operate the team on an austere budget. In 1999, he was forced to trade star scorer Zigmund Palffy because team owners no longer wanted to pay his multimillion-dollar contract.

However, Milbury has also been criticized for the many seemingly poor decisions he made in which payroll or orders from upper management were not factors. Many young players and prospects that Milbury traded away went on to have distinguished careers, often eclipsing those of the players he received in return. He traded away defensemen Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, and Bryan McCabe; goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Tommy Salo; as well as forwards Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Tim Connolly, Jean-Pierre Dumont, and Raffi Torres. Milbury has also come under fire for his poor draft-day decisions such as choosing Rick DiPietro first overall in 2000 over Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik, as well as his decision to include the 2001 second overall draft pick (Jason Spezza) as part of the Alexei Yashin trade.

In June 2006, Milbury stepped down as Islanders GM to accept a position as Senior Vice President of Charles Wang's sports holdings. In an appearance on Mike and the Mad Dog, Wang did not challenge a suggestion from the hosts that he "fired" Milbury. Milbury resigned from his Senior VP job in May 2007. He said that he missed making hockey-related decisions and would be open to a hockey operations job in another organization.

Television work[]

American networks NESN, NBC and Versus, plus Canada's TSN, hired Milbury as an analyst for the 2007–08 season. He also does the pre- and post-game analysis for the Boston Bruins, and for the past two years, he has participated in the broadcast of the Winter Classic. In July 2008, Milbury signed a two-year contract with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Hockey Night in Canada. He's gained notoriety for many controversial comments he's made including equating Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to "crack addicts" and saying Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban "had it coming" when his head was repeatedly pushed into the ground by Sidney Crosby during Game 5 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.

Shoe incident[]

Milbury gained notoriety for what occurred following a 4–3 Bruins victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 1979. During an on-ice fray between the players from both sides, a Rangers fan cut Stan Jonathan's face with a rolled-up program and grabbed his hockey stick. Terry O'Reilly climbed over the Plexiglas and went into the stands in pursuit of the offender, followed by Peter McNab and other teammates. Milbury, who had actually reached the visitors locker room when his teammates started going into the stands, raced back to join his colleagues in the brawl. He caught the unruly spectator, removed one of his shoes and, while holding the heel end, slapped him hard once with the sole side before being restrained. Subsequently, NHL president John Ziegler suspended O'Reilly for 8 games and McNab and Milbury for 6, with each being fined $500. This incident also resulted in the installation of higher glass panels enclosing rinks in hockey arenas.[10]

Career statistics[]

Regular season and playoffs[]

      Regular season    Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1971–72 Walpole Rebels High-MA
1972–73 Colgate University ECAC 27 4 25 29 81
1973–74 Colgate University ECAC 23 2 19 21 68
1973–74 Boston Braves AHL 5 0 0 0 7
1974–75 Rochester Americans AHL 71 2 15 17 246 8 0 3 3 24
1975–76 Boston Bruins NHL 3 0 0 0 9 11 0 0 0 29
1975–76 Rochester Americans AHL 73 3 15 18 199 3 0 1 1 13
1976–77 Boston Bruins NHL 77 6 18 24 166 13 2 2 4 47
1977–78 Boston Bruins NHL 80 8 30 38 151 15 1 8 9 27
1978–79 Boston Bruins NHL 74 1 34 35 149 11 1 7 8 7
1979–80 Boston Bruins NHL 72 10 13 23 59 10 0 2 2 50
1980–81 Boston Bruins NHL 77 0 18 18 222 2 0 1 1 10
1981–82 Boston Bruins NHL 51 2 10 12 71 11 0 4 4 6
1982–83 Boston Bruins NHL 78 9 15 24 216
1983–84 Boston Bruins NHL 74 2 17 19 159 3 0 0 0 12
1984–85 Boston Bruins NHL 78 3 13 16 152 5 0 0 0 10
1985–86 Boston Bruins NHL 22 2 5 7 102 1 0 0 0 17
1986–87 Boston Bruins NHL 68 6 16 22 96 4 0 0 0 4
NHL totals 754 49 189 238 1552 86 4 24 28 219


Year Team Event    GP G A Pts PIM
1976 United States CC 5 1 3 4 16

NHL coaching record[]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Division rank Result
BOS 1989–90 80 46 25 9 101 1st in Adams Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
BOS 1990–91 80 44 24 12 100 1st in Adams Lost in Conference Finals
NYI 1995–96 82 22 50 10 54 7th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
NYI 1996–97 45 13 23 9 (70) 7th in Atlantic (Moved to GM's Role)
NYI 1997–98 19 8 9 2 (71) 4th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
NYI 1998–99 45 13 29 3 (58) 5th in Atlantic (Returned to GM's role)
Total 351 146 160 45