P.K. Subban

NBC’s Mike Milbury just dug himself into an even deeper hole responding to his P.K. Subban comment.

Story written by Mark Harris

By now you have probably seen, read or heard what NBC analyst and former NHL defenseman Mike Milbury had to say about P.K. Subban and his pregame warmup routine ahead of Game Two on Friday. For those who haven’t, here is the full quote from Milbury after a clip showing Subban dancing a bit ahead of Friday’s game:

“P.K. has got a tremendous personality, and sometimes you’ve got to keep it under control. I know it’s a new day and age and everybody wants to be on Instagram or Twitter or whatever. But you’ve got to keep focus. When I see this I start to think maybe Peter Laviolette ought to give him a rap on the head and say, ‘Hey, P.K., we’ve got a game tonight, focus in. You don’t need to be a clown out there.’ And he will. He’s been a clown in the past, and we’ve seen him act like a clown. When he’s serious and focused, he’s one hell of a player.”

The word that jumps out there is clown. Joe Rexrode of The Tennesseean caught up with Milbury about the incident.

Here is what Milbury had to say in response to Rexrode’s first question simply asking Milbury to elaborate on the clown comment:

“First of all, we go pretty hard in the playoffs. We don’t get much time off. We do a lot of doubleheaders and we’re in there like all the time. We try to look at what we’re looking at and then convey our opinions or analyze what we see in a moment’s notice. We don’t always get it right, but we try to. And I think we’re on the right track. In this case, what I said was really meant to be a discussion point. And if you saw the clip, I think you saw me say, ‘What do you think about this?’ to Keith (Jones) and Keith says, ‘Well, he does this every game.’ Yeah, I guess he does. But I just felt like, does there come a time when the circumstances are more serious? And there’s a little bit more serious behavior? That was just my question. It wasn’t really even meant to be a statement on the whole thing.

So, the first thing Milbury jumped to try and defend his very questionable remark on Subban was his tough work schedule saying “we go pretty hard in the playoffs” and “we don’t get much time off” plus “we’re in there [the studio] like all the time.” What that sounds like is he is trying to come up with an excuse for himself (doing the job he’s paid to do) and try to reach for some type of sympathy that due to his tough workload he somehow came up with a ‘talking point’ about Subban having fun on the ice before puck drop.

And just when you thought there is no possible way he could dig himself any further into a hole, he also had this to say:

“And I understand, he does it all the time. I just wondered, does there come a time? Let’s put it this way: if you’re in the newsroom and you’re writing a story, and someone is beside you and they’re writing a story but they’re dancing, would that bother you? You know, would it be distracting? You’re writing a serious column and somebody else does that. It’s different, right? What P.K. does is different. It doesn’t make it wrong, doesn’t make it anything; it just makes it different. And I said this when I was on with (Jeremy Roenick) a day later. For me, I’m just merely mortal. I’m not like P.K., a superstar, a Norris Trophy winner. When I played, I had to visualize the night before, go to bed on time, get to the rink at a certain hour, eat a certain food, sleep in the afternoon, stretch at a certain time, make sure my sticks were OK, put blinders on kind of thing.

He just compared Subban warming up in front of 16,000 fans with blaring dance music going on to a reporter typing a story in the newsroom. Yeah, those are two totally relatable things worth comparing.

Milbury goes back and reminisces on his playing days saying he never was the superstar Subban is today. Those who don’t know, this is what Milbury is known for in the NHL:

People make mistakes and there have been thousands of worse and more stupid things said on air than what Milbury said about Subban, but his response to the incident is mind boggling.

This isn’t the 1970’s and 1980’s. Players are allowed to and need to be encouraged to have a personality in the NHL. When it comes down to it, Subban is one of maybe five players in the entire league that voices his opinion to the media, has a personal brand and embraces the superstar status he himself has built.

Milbury’s comments simply show a disconnect between an older generation of hockey fans, NBC, the league itself and the hockey being played and watched today.

[The Tennessean]