Hockey analyst Mike Milbury apologized Tuesday for critical comments made about Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
Labeling Crosby “a punk,” Milbury, the former NHL coach and general manager, criticized the Pittsburgh center on a Philadelphia radio station Monday. He called out Crosby for his role in instigating a game-ending line brawl in Sunday’s contest between the Penguins and Flyers.
“I reached out to (Pittsburgh president) David Morehouse and the Penguins about the comments I made yesterday on Philadelphia radio,” Milbury said. “In hindsight, I realize what I said was inappropriate and wrong, and I want to apologize to the Penguins organization and their fans.”
Milbury is an analyst on NBC and also appears on CBC. He called Crosby “little goody two shoes” and also referred to “his 35th concussion.”
Milbury spoke to Sports Radio 94 WIP Monday, a day after the chaotic scene in the waning moments of Philadelphia’s 6-4 victory resulted in 52 minutes in penalties being assessed between the two teams.
The fighting was touched off in part by Flyers forward Brayden Schenn’s cross-check to Crosby.
“Little goody two shoes (Crosby) goes into the corner and gives a shot to Schenn. Schenn was late to the party, he should have turned around and drilled him right away, but I guess better late than never,” Milbury said.
“So you know, Crosby gets cross-checked, big whoop. He said after he came back from his 35th concussion, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to get into this scrums, I’m going to stay away from that stuff.’ He couldn’t help himself because there’s a little punk in Crosby.
“He’s not the perfect gentleman. He’s not the sweet kid you see in interviews with his hat pulled down over his eyes.”
Crosby said Tuesday before the Penguins played in Boston that he’s not sure what provoked Milbury’s tirade. The 24-year-old former MVP has been limited to 19 games over the last 15 months due to concussions.
“”I don’t know what he’s looking for, if he’s looking for attention. I don’t know what it is,” Crosby said. “I really don’t know where that came from. He’s pretty good at twisting things around, that’s for sure.”
Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson believes Milbury’s apology isn’t enough.
“Milbury went too far this time attacking the very sensitive issue of the concussion,” Brisson said. “A simple apology isn’t accepted in this case. The real way to treat this disease is by either suspending or firing Milbury. Plain and simple ”
Crosby said he’s “not a gentleman on the ice at times” but added he’s usually retaliating. He had no major issue with Schenn’s hit, saying “that’s not out of the blue.”
On Monday, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was fined $10,000 for calling out his coaching counterpart, Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, over the incident from bench to bench. Penguins assistant Tony Granato, who stepped on the top of the side boards and in between the two head coaches, was also fined $2,500.
Laviolette was upset that the Penguins’ fourth line took a shift shortly after Jakub Voracek’s empty-net goal concluded the scoring.
During the shift, Penguins forward Joe Vitale leveled Flyers center Danny Briere shortly after the ensuing faceoff, starting off a chain of events that included Crosby’s run-in with Schenn, as well as Laviolette smashing a stick over the glass.
“Those guys hadn’t been out there in 12 minutes,” Laviolette said in his postgame press conference. “It’s a gutless move by their coach. It’s gutless.”
The two teams meet again Saturday, and will likely face each other in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs next week.
“It’s not totally uncommon,” Milbury said of Laviolette’s behavior. “I can remember being on such a perch, or at least trying to climb over the boards to get at somebody to make a point.
“And I thought Dan Bylsma should have taken off his skirt and gone over there.”