Monday, 19 December 2011

The hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of Mike Milbury

The hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of Mike Milbury is astounding. He is currently accused of misdemeanor assault for shaking a 12 year old boy, an opponent of his own son who were playing hockey and participating in a sort of skills competition.

Mr. Milbury denies any wrongdoing, and claims that he was merely protecting his son from repeated attacks and bullying from the alleged victim in the quote below:
“I want to be clear about a couple of things,’’ said Milbury. “No one was punched, kicked, or assaulted in any way. I know the ‘Mad Mike’ image that I have and all that. I love the game, I’m passionate about it, but I don’t smack kids around. I grabbed the other kid by the sweater to stop a fight and, yeah, I swore at him. That’s it. That’s what I did.

“And … this was also after watching my kid get verbally bullied by the other player for over two hours. It was the third time that night that Jake and the kid got into it, and that was the last straw for Jake. I mean, what kid can take that?"

Mr. Milbury is a master of twisting facts to fit his distorted logic. As a former coach, he should know what every hockey parent knows, every parent of any child who participates in team sports should know: you never step on the ice, or on the field of play. Of course, keeping in mind his charge into the stands at Madison Square Garden decades ago, it can be argued that Mr. Milbury has a poor sense of boundaries, whether geographic or behavioural.

He should also know what any reasonable person does, and what every teacher or coach definitely does, which is that it is never allowable to lay hands on a child for disciplinary reasons.

More broadly, the ludicrously paradoxical relationship between his explanation and his conduct as a player and broadcaster is enough to give one whiplash. He felt a need to protect his son from a prolonged harangue and physical provocation from an opponent on the ice, yet Mr. Milbury's entire playing career was one of verbal and physical intimidation. Apparently being slashed and mugged and taunted and threatened was acceptable for Pierre Mondou and Mats Naslund, but not for his son.

Some will argue that adults who play pro sports should expect this kind of treatment, but Mr. Milbury contributes to this climate of fear and intimidation and violence with his work as a hockey analyst. He constantly lionizes 'tough guys' and physical play, and intimidation as a tactic. For example, when Ryan Miller was bowled over by Milan Lucic earlier this season, he didn't see this as an outrage and an assault on a talented player that should be dealt with harshly by the League. Instead, he focused on the Sabres' lack of retaliation as the target of his opprobrium. They were soft and unresponsive and were therefore partially to blame for their own misery. They should have 'taken care of it on the ice', he thundered, not rely on Brendan Shanahan and supplemental discipline.

When Brad Marchand repeatedly punched Daniel Sedin in the head during last year's Stanley Cup finals, he explained that the playoffs were not for the faint of heart, and that winning by any means necessary was the order of the day. The Canucks were 'soft' and lacked grit and the intimidation tactics by the Bruins proved "they wanted it more." Mr. Sedin should have reacted, instead of waiting for the referee to call a half-dozen well-deserved penalties and toss Mr. Marchand from the game. Mr. Sedin had allowed himself to be bullied. He was the enabler, not a victim.

Mr. Milbury has been poisoning the well of hockey for decades now. He can't be all that surprised when this environmental thuggery splatters his son. He should be ashamed for his actions of December 9, and ashamed for his work as a commentator, for preaching that it's okay for bigger players to bully smaller players.

He cannot have it both ways. He should plead guilty, and if he doesn't he should resign from his commentator jobs and apologize to the sport that has supported and tolerated him all these years.

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