NBC Sports trades one awful Mike for another

Oct 21, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock during the post game press conference against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Arena. Columbus defeated Toronto in overtime. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As any Avalanche fan with a subscription to Comcast or DISH Network knows, the corporate media overlords giveth and they just as easily taketh away. Such has been the case with the absence of Altitude TV’s broadcasts of three-fifths of Denver professional sports contests in the last year and change.

It’s also the case with NBC Sports’ upcoming coverage of the 2021 pandemic-shortened NHL season. The live events arm of the peacock revealed on Monday its slate of play-by-play announcers, analysts, commentators, insiders, and studio hosts.

Missing from the litany of names? Perennial wet blanket Mike Milbury.

And hockey fans rejoiced.

While Milbury was once a hockey player, an NHL coach and, gasp, somehow a general manager, most people probably remember him as the reliably milquetoast old guy on NBC Sports broadcasts. You know, the one who occasionally belittled players and women alike. Sometimes he referred to grown men as female, and other times he merely implied that players and coaches weren’t man enough for his liking.

Seemingly bothered by anything fun and modern, Milbury, and his Don Cherry-esque attitude about all that he deemed unacceptable to his staunch and certainly outdated worldview, is certainly not going to be missed.

Don’t let that door get you on the way out, Mike.

And while this exceptional news possibly meant moving toward a more progressive, perhaps inclusive, and potentially modern broadcast, NBC Sports hastily lit that moment on fire by also revealing that disgraced former coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Babcock, would be appearing in studio as an analyst.

If you recall, Babcock’s tenure in Toronto ended abruptly when word of Babcock’s verbally and mentally abusive antics began to surface. First, there was the drama with Leafs superstar Mitchell Marner. Then former players like Chris Chelios and Johan Franzen chimed in.

Franzen went as far as to call Babcock “a terrible person, the worst person Ive ever met.

It’s pretty hard to look beyond that statement to whatever merits the man might bring to a broadcast.

If there was any further question about the likability of the NBC’s new Mike, one should just ask former NHLer Mike Commodore.

Now I’m all for people redeeming past behaviors through positive and informed actions while also accepting the consequences for what they’ve done. I believe second chances can be given to those who understand they’ve wronged and have worked to make amends and become better people.

But that doesn’t mean failing a man forward by slapping him in a national broadcast role and brushing the ugly stuff under the rug.

When asked by ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski about Babcock’s hiring, NBC executive producer and president Sam Flood offered a meager, “We’ve had a full process of conversations, as we do with anyone we bring on the team.”

That’s hardly an acceptable statement when considering Babcock’s tarnished reputation, Sam.

Hockey fans deserved better when Milbury was the best NBC Sports could do and they deserve better than Babcock now.

I’m sure there are plenty of smart, talented, totally not toxic hockey minds that could bring new and fresh ideas to the television product. Hell, if Jonathan Toews can’t play this year, bring him aboard.

Until then, I guess well have to watch that first airing for Babcocks worldwide apology.

SHARE