Part 1: “Mad” Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury, New York Islanders (279-360, .437, 11 seasons)
He’s known as “Mad Mike” and with good reason. He did everything he could to cut down on the payroll as the owners requested when he assumed position and once the ownership changed and Charles Wang came in, someone forgot to inform him to stop trading away future money demanders for the nothing he’s been receiving in return. Then again, when a man is on a mission, who is going to stop him? We’re talking about the same guy who once beat a spectator with their own shoe.
But it doesn’t end there. When he first showed up, the Islanders abandoned their traditional jerseys to go with the new one, the fisherman one. I’m talking about this bad boy:
Even the players wearing it feel retarded.
They only used the jerseys from 1995 to 1997, and Mathieu Schneider, seen sulking above, was dealt from the team shortly before the end of the 1996 season. Something tells me, based on the above picture, he may have requested the trade so he wouldn’t ever have to wear that jersey again. Fans began nicknaming the Islanders “Fishsticks” for that spectacular jersey. I’m just surprised no one pointed out how horrible it was before they began to market it. Then again, that same ineptness would explain how people still purchase Buckley’s cough syrup.
Buckley’s: Tastes like Shit, but YOU Still Buy It!
But that’s beside the point. I’m supposed to be talking about how pathetic, or amazing depending on what way you look at it, Mad Mike really was while managing this team.
Let’s see here… ah, alright. On March 13th, 1996, he dealt Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider and D.J. Smith to the Leafs for Darby Hendrickson, Sean Haggerty, Kenny Jonsson and a 1st round pick that turned out to be Roberto Luongo. Not too shabby, considering he got Luongo. Oh, never mind, he decided to deal him too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On June 19th, 1999, he dealt Zigmund Palffy, Bryan Smolinski, Marcel Cousineau and a 4th round pick (Daniel Johansson) to the LA Kings for Olli Jokinen, Josh Green, Mathieu Biron and a 1st round pick (Taylor Pyatt). Not too shabby, he did get Jokinen. Oh, yeah, he dealt him too.
So far, none of his moves are necessarily insane, but consider that by 2000, Charles Wang became the new owner. So that whole money issue that the management sent in a memo in 1996, doesn’t exist anymore.
Enter the summer of 2000. For those conspiracy theorists who thought the world would end on Y2K, they weren’t really incorrect, per se. The Islanders came very close to not having a thing called “talent” left in the franchise.
On June 24th, 2000, he dealt Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo to the Panthers for, and I kid you not, Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. I’ll give you a minute to let that one soak in.
I could just imagine it went down a little like this:
Milbury: “I’m bored.”
Panthers: “Hey, want to trade?”
Milbury: “Sure. I’ll trade Jokinen and Luongo.”
Panthers: “Oh, well, we only want to move Parrish and Kvasha.”
Milbury: “Screw it, done deal. If anyone argues with me, I’ll beat them with a shoe.”
2 Hours later, the phone rang…
Kevin Lowe: “Hey Mike, how’s it going?”
Milbury: “(Burp) Good shit man, good shit going on.”
Kevin Lowe: “You been drinking?”
Milbury: “No more than the next guy." (Points to an empty chair).
Kevin Lowe: “Well, have I got a deal for you!”
Milbury: “Cool, forge my signature for me, will ya, I got a date with Miss Captain Morgan.”
Kevin Lowe: “You don’t want to see it?”
Milbury: “Nah, I trust you.”
Kevin Lowe: “Fair enough. If Brian Burke asks, this phone call never happened. That guy’s been getting on my nerves.”
Milbury: “No problem, K-Love”.
Kevin Lowe: “Lowe.”
Milbury: “Whatever”. (Click)
Two days later, Milbury woke up to the following article:
Islanders trade Eric Brewer, Josh Green, and a 2nd round pick (Brad Winchester) to the Oilers for Roman Hamrlik.
A knock comes on the door. Charles Wang has come to pay him a visit.
Yes, this is Charles Wang.
Wang: “Hey Milbury!”
Milbury: “Inside voice, Wang-Dawg.”
Wang: “What are you doing?”
Milbury: “Drinking Nypto.”
Milbury: “It’s a combination of NyQuil and Pepto”.
Wang: “That’s not what I was asking. I saw your trades. Why did you do that?”
Milbury: “Hey man, don’t tell me how to do my job.” (Reaches for nearest shoe).
Wang: “You dealt Eric Brewer and others for Rome and Ham lick.”
Milbury: (Looks back at paper).
Milbury: “Hey, Wang-Dawg, when did you get here?”
Wang: “Argh…” (Leaves angrily).
1 Year Later.
Milbury: (Calls Charles Wang).
Milbury: “Wang-Dawg, quit talkin’ Japaneezo, you’re in Americano, comprendé, Amigos?”
Wang: “I’m not Mexi-”
Milbury: “Tomato, potato. I got a deal. That Yashin guy, he’s going for cheap. I talked the Senators down but they want a draft pick, that cool for school for you-ool?”
Wang: “Uh, sure, just don’t move the 1st.”
Milbury: “Can’t hear you, I’ll take that as a yes, Amigos. Enjoy the burritos.” (Click)
HEADLINE: Islanders acquire Alexei Yashin from the Senators for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and a 1st round pick, 2nd overall, (Jason Spezza).
Wang’s Answering Machine: “Yo, Wang-Dawg. I got another deal lined up. It will make you Wang-Chung, so I pulled the trigger. Oh, almost forgot, I sent over a crate of tortillas, enjoy Amigos-Wangitos.”
HEADLINE: Islanders acquire Mike Peca from the Sabres for Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt.
It wasn’t long after that the Islanders realized everything this guy touched didn’t, in fact, turn to gold – much the opposite. So in 2006, it was Wang’s decision to replace – I shouldn’t say replace. After all, he wasn’t fired. No, he was asked to step down and assume a position of Senior Vice President of Wang’s sports enterprise.
What’s more terrifying than Milbury’s decisions is the fact that he was never fired. He was PROMOTED for these decisions. So even though he will go down as one of the worst general managers in the history of the NHL, so too will Charles Wang as one of the worst owners in the history of sports.
But perhaps the legend of “Mad Mike” doesn’t end here. In 2007, he resigned from his Senior VP position and announced he wants to get back into a decision making position in hockey.
Good luck with that, Mike.
Micheal A. Aldred
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Part 1: “Mad” Mike Milbury