NBC Sports removed Mike Milbury from his NHL assignment Friday following backlash against commentary he made during a game Thursday night.
The NHL issued a formal statement Friday condemning Milbury for the commentary during Thursday’s New York Islanders-Washington Capitals game.
“The National Hockey League condemns the insensitive and insulting comment that Mike Milbury made during last night’s broadcast, and we have communicated our feelings to NBC,” the league statement reads. “The comment did not reflect the NHL’s values and commitment to making our game more inclusive and welcoming to all.”
Milbury made the comment amid a discussion with play-by-play man Brian Boucher about the bubble environment NHL players are playing and living in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Not even any women here’
“If you think about it, it’s a terrific environment with regard to — if you enjoy playing and enjoy being with your teammates for long periods of time, it’s a perfect place,” Boucher said.
“It’s the perfect place,” Milbury responded. “Not even any women here to disrupt your concentration.”
NBC Sports issued a statement on Milbury’s commentary.
“We’re disappointed about Mike’s insensitive comment and have addressed it with him,” the statement reads.
Milbury removed from broadcast
The network later announced that Milbury wouldn’t work his assignment to cover Friday’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.
“Mike Milbury is not working tonight,” an NBC Sports statement reads. “We will announce our commentary teams for this weekend’s games tomorrow evening.”
Milbury issued an apology prior to being removed from the broadcast.
“I sincerely apologize for making the comment,” Milbury wrote. “It was not my intention to disrespect anyone. I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far.
“It was a regrettable mistake that I take seriously.”
Milbury regularly courts controversy
This is not Milbury’s first brush with controversy. The 68-year-old who played 12 seasons in the NHL was charged with assaulting a 12-year-old boy after a youth hockey game in 2011. The boy was an opponent of his son’s team. The case was later dismissed due to lack of evidence.
As a broadcaster with CBC, Milbury courted controversy by repeatedly using the word “pansification” during broadcasts in 2009.
In 2011, he referred to Vancouver Canucks players and twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin as “Thelma and Louise” as an intended insult during the Stanley Cup Final.
Just last week, he drew fire for criticizing Boston Bruins goaltender Tukka Rask for opting out of the bubble to spend time with his wife and young children. Rask later revealed that his daughter was dealing with a medical emergency.
Milbury played his entire career in Boston and later worked in the front office and as head coach of the Bruins.
Another broadcaster in trouble
Milbury’s comments arrive amid a rough week for sports broadcasters. The Charlotte Hornets suspended radio announcer John Focke after he tweeted the N word on Monday.
Cincinnati Reds and Fox Sports NFL TV announcer Thom Brennaman was suspended from his baseball job and removed from his NFL broadcasts after uttering an anti-gay slur on air during a Reds game Wednesday night.
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