Radko Gudas, the hard-hitting Czech, has turned heads since his promotion from the Syracuse Crunch last week. Perhaps it's the beard? Perhaps it's throwing his body around? Whatever, it's been a change of pace to have a noticeable defenseman on ice who isn't drawing attention due to bad turnovers or poorly timed penalties.
With the good comes the bad, and the "bad" in this instance is a US nationally televised game on NBC Sport Network. It's not like I'm concerned if Gudas and his beard are ready for a close-up in the national spotlight. I am, however, concerned about more bullshit from the likes of one of the worst television commentators in professional sports.
Hello, Mike Milbury... Please, go away.
Most die-hard NHL fans that are subjected to Milbury's antics on NBC Sports Net broadcasts simply dismiss him as bombastic, full of shit, and full of himself. NBC Sports Net must love him due to the fact Milbury (by being outspoken) is inserting himself into the conversation and setting himself apart.
The problem is, Milbury's antics and character are part of what's wrong with NBC Sports Network's hockey coverage. Instated of having personalities that the audience is endeared to, polarizing figures are the mainstay (be it Milbury or analyst Pierre McGuire). That's making NBCSN telecasts noteworthy for all the wrong reasons.
Milbury's latest tirade came last night, with him attacking Alex Ovechkin during NBC's telecast of the Washington Capitals / Buffalo Sabres game. And while the die-hard fans of hockey know better than to take Milbury at his word (as his track record as a commentator, a coach, and a general manager is mediocre at nicest), it's the fact that these games on national TV are supposed to attract the casual fans (and the fact his bile is being used to "inform" them) that bothers me the most.
This brings me back to Radko Gudas making his national television debut tonight. He's already credited with ending Kris Versteeg's season with a clean hit that resulted in Kris hitting the ice in withering pain. While most people watched (or reviewed it multiple times) the hit in question and realized there was no malicious intention and the hit was clean, I'm of mind to expect Milbury to label Gudas a thug, a goon, and any other type of dirty-reputation name that he's fed by his producers to repeat to the viewing audience.
If not that, then some other form of bullshit will be fed to the public during intermission. Because that's what Mike does - he launches into misinformed or reactionary rants that fits a narrative that either he personally believes or his producers at NBC Sports want to frame.
Some tell me that NBC Sports wants to groom Milbury into a figure comparable to Hockey Night In Canada's Don Cherry - outspoken but respected. The problem is, Mike Milbury lacks any degree of charisma that Don Cherry commands. The same goes for analyst Pierre McGuire, studio commentator Keith Jones, and the majority of the crew devoted to NBC Sports coverage of the NHL.
I mean, really...Don Cherry's obnoxiously loud suits are more likable than the average personality for the NHL on NBC. And more respectable, too.
So, tonight will be another night where you hear something ridiculous from Mike Milbury. That's par for the course. My concern remains he's going to attack Gudas... Perhaps he'll call for Alex Killorn's demotion to the AHL (again)? Or blast Steven Stamkos as a greedy player who'd doesn't deserve the "A" on his sweater? Maybe Victor Hedman will earn his ire (much like Tyler Myers did last night)? Whoever the target is, no matter what's said, odds are Mike will make you cringe and hate the fact you had to suffer another game on NBC Sports.