You probably can’t hear this, but listen anyway.
That’s Mike Milbury calling Tim Connolly a “self centered little dink.” To quote Sabres Edge
“When he’s not injured or acting like a self-centered little dink, he’s a very good player,” Milbury said during highlights on NESN.
I think Anne at Sabretooth’s House makes a good point about this: no one is defending Tim Connolly by attempting to debunk the notion that he is self-centered, or a “dink”. In fact, unless Milbury means Connolly is a lesbian couple with two sources of income and no children, I have no clue what that means. To be quite honest, I have no problem if someone considers Tim Connolly to be either of those things. There’s a good chance it’s true, and it doesn’t change what I think about him either way.
However, here’s where Mike Milbury gets into trouble. You see, Milbury has history with Tim Connolly, and that does matter in this discussion. It’s not a defense of Connolly as much as it is an admission of facts: Mike Milbury drafted Connolly fifth overall in 1999, then threw him under the bus with Taylor Pyatt just two years later. Milbury obviously had some sort of issues with Connolly, parting ways with him before he hit 20 years old. That must have been two killer years of self-centered hockey, or maybe Milbury’s just bad at his job.
Why does this matter? Well, it’s obvious that they have history that directly affects his analysis of a player. It’s a throwaway comment, sure, but is it a necessary one? It is Milbury’s job to be critical of players, but the backhanded compliment he delivers obviously comes with some bias. I think it’s an example of him going out of his way to belittle a player he has personal problems with, and I don’t think there’s any room for that on the air.
Not only that, but he doesn’t exactly have a great track record in his tenure as Islanders GM. Quothe the Wiki:
He is a well-known figure in the National Hockey League for his controversial (and often quotable) style, as well as for his penchant for blockbuster trades. For these reasons, when he referred to himself as “Mad Mike” after trading away Roberto Luongo, the nickname has stuck ever since.
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 multi-million dollar contract.
However, Milbury has also been criticized for the many decisions he made in which payroll or orders for 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 has traded away defensemen Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, and Bryan McCabe; goalies Roberto Luongo and Tommy Salo, as well as forwards Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Raffi Torres. Milbury has also come under fire for his 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.
Throughout Milbury’s tenure as Islanders GM, fans chanted “Mike Must Go” when the team performed badly.
That’s a massive list of All Star talent Milbury has parted with, and Tim Connolly didn’t even make the cut. The fact of the matter is that Milbury failed miserably as the Islanders GM and head coach, and the woeful track record on Long Island since has a lot to do with the damage he did. It may seem stupid to wonder if after all those bad moves Milbury still has sour grapes left for Timmy, but that man has grown a hell of a vineyard so far.
To be honest, that’s the biggest problem I have with what Milbury said: he just doesn’t have much credibility. I mean, take another look at that list and tell me you’re taking personnel advice from him. That’s right, the guy who traded Jason Spezza sight unseen is taking a swipe at the way someone else (who he traded away) plays hockey. Wade Redden, Zedeno Chara? Pieces parts. Yep, that’s the kind of guy I trust with my player evaluations.
As far as I’m concerned, Mike Milbury has about as much credibility as Matt Millen has in the NFL right now. Just because someone wants to hire him doesn’t mean he knows much of anything, and it certainly doesn’t mean we have to listen.
Again, this isn’t about defending Tim Connolly. Quite frankly, there isn’t a reason to do so. Timmy’s a big boy and can handle himself, and that includes a bitter former general manager’s dislike of a teenage hockey player. I’m sure we all put our best face forward from age 18-20, and life-long opinions should be solidified and disclosed on national television based off said teenage face.
Tim Connolly can just do what the rest of us do with Mike Milbury: watch “that other guy” take him to the woodshed routinely on “Coast to Coast.” It’s by far my favorite part of Hockey Night in Canada, and I’m sure Timmy will enjoy it now, too.