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Mike Milbury: No Longer Distracting

Dear Mike Milbury, I’m sorry you find women so distracting. You should have learned to control your own attention span.

Mike Milbury facing off by WeatherExperiment is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Mike Milbury: No Longer Distracting

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Dear Mike Milbury, I’m sorry you find women so distracting. You should have learned to control your own attention span. Like me. Cause I am rarely distracted by you.

Why am I scolding Milbury like a boy who pulled my ponytails in an 19th century school house? Because on live television, while doing commentary for a professional hockey game, Milbury said how nice it is was that there is “not even any women here to disrupt your concentration” in the NHL bubble. It’s the answer to a question LITERALLY NO ONE ASKED. If you want to hear his unprompted nonsense, it’s below with a fabulous clap-back by female correspondent, Sarah Civian:

Well, there’s a lot to unpack there but basically this sums up his statement quite well:

Milbury’s continual stream of sexist vomit is a sore on the face of hockey. He attacked Tuukka Rask for leaving the bubble for a family emergency. He questioned Rask’s commitment to hockey. In 2018, he called the domestic violence charges against Los Angeles King defenseman Slava Voynov “unfortunate.” Earlier in the current playoffs, he compared playing to an empty stadium to attending a college women’s hockey game. May I ask, why the hell are we still putting up with this loose-lipped neanderthal? As hockey’s fan base diversifies and more women are playing hockey than ever before, the last thing we need is an article of the stone age telling us we aren’t welcome.

And there is no longer space for this rhetoric in the world, much less professional hockey broadcasting.

To insinuate that the mere presence of women is distracting is to say that women are only around hockey as wives and thereby, for sex. It sexualizes us into objects of function, not fans with opinions, views, and passion for our teams. Because apparently men only have women in their lives for one thing. Men can’t possibly be expected to perform their best when a woman is standing within 6 feet of them. Apparently, we always need to be socially distanced when it comes to gender. For the benefit of our boys of course.

This is the same argument that says girls can’t wear skinny strap tank tops to school or that their shorts have to go past their longest fingers. These are real rules I had in high school. And I am very small person with very short limbs but I could never find shorts that were a) made for girls who wanted to be fashionable and b) went past my fingers. I’m sure that Milbury and those like him would rather I wore full length wizard robes. That would help their precious sons not be so distracted in math class by seeing my knees. Can you imagine how those poor boys felt skating next to me in practice? They probably could barely contain themselves with my wrists showing between my sleeves and gloves!

This was only the tip of the iceberg with Milbury.

Remember when he insulted P.K. Subban’s warm up and said he “deserved a rap on the head”? And then when P.K. Subban got beat up in a fight by Sidney Crosby, doubled down and said he deserved it? Or then there’s the fact that as a player, he basically lived in the penalty box rather than playing the game. What can you expect when his coach was infamous tough guy and similarly disgusting blowhard, Don Cherry? Heck, even just a few games ago, he claimed the Maple Leaf’s Jake Muzzin was “faking it” when he suffered an injury. You know how Muzzin left the ice? On a stretcher. We deserve better than someone who minimizes an active player for not being tough enough. Not all of us take more pride in penalties than play. And thankfully…

As I was writing this article, Milbury left the broadcast team for the rest of the NHL Playoffs.

For the past 48 hours, he has received a lot of backlash. And he deserved it. He deserved it for putting another notch on his bed post. Some are defending him, saying this is not that bad. Compared to his other comments, no, it probably isn’t that bad. But when he is consistently refusing to evolve and has made multiple chauvinistic or downright out-of-line comments in these playoffs, it is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I’m not annoyed because he is a dinosaur. I am mad because there are enough men (and some women) in the world who listen to him and still think that I don’t have a place in NHL hockey as a writer or fan because I am a woman. This subset is defending him. They are the same people who will comment on this article and say I’m a sensitive girl snowflake. I’m not. But as long as Milbury and his aged cronies sit on television, there will not be a space for the great female hockey analysts and players currently making their names. Milbury needs to go for A.J. Mleczko, Kathryn Tappen, Kendall Coyne Schofield and many others working on television. Notice how none of them are working in the bubble? I did.

This isn’t all men in the league, NBC, the NHL or the fans.

I mean it when I say, not all men in hockey feel the same way about women that Milbury does. The rebukes he received are indicative of that. The sport is changing and I’m so very grateful for that. Those women I listed above were part of an all-female crew on a game this February. The NHL has welcomed women at the All-Stars Skills competition two years in a row. Many NHL teams hosting training camps with youth players are offering these as co-ed opportunities. There’s so much good.

And not tolerating Milbury anymore is a little bit more good. Let’s keep doing more good. Let’s keep elevating diverse voices and say that hockey can grow and hold everyone. Because it truly can. No, women will never play in the NHL, of course not! But they can be a voice in the analysis. They can play in their own league and be respected, talented players. They don’t need to be purely seen as “distractions”.

Bye, Milbury! Looking forward to a future with amazing men that will sit at the table with equally amazing women! And look! No one at the Turf is pulling my pigtails for writing this.

Sarah Jane, Sarah, or SJ-depending on the source-is a director, educator, theatre artist and now, sports blogger. She lives in Queens with her darling, not-so-sports-fan boyfriend. She played ice hockey growing up for the NJ Quarry Cats and various other teams. Being team captain her last two seasons is the most important achievement of her life to date. She proudly also was about a quarter of the size of her opponents and often led her team in both penalty minutes and enthusiasm. She's a Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers fan (thanks, Momma!) and a New York Yankees fan (thanks, Poppa?) and was given zero choice on all three of these teams. Other hobbies include reading non-fiction books, cooking, and being spunky. Check in with her for all your greater hockey needs!



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