Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'The kid's playing like he's sniffing glue.' - Mike Milbury talking about Eric Brewer

As the hockey season wines down I can't help but remember the good old days of Mike Milbury. There was never a trade too controversial for Mike. Looking back i'm curious to see if he really was as bad as we all thought.

The General Manager of the New York Islanders. He was in control from 95-06. And went through the penny pinching years of the the Island's ownership group in the late 90's to the 'max the cap' days of new owner Charles Wang.

Some highlights in my mind.

1998 - The Island gets Trevor Linden from the canucks for Bryan McCabe and Todd Bertuzzi

Both guys were rough and tough at the time, but hadn't put up big numbers. Can we fault Milbury for not have a crystal ball to read into the future? Linden was a veteran leader and the island had few of those. The really weird thing about this is both McCabe and Bertuzzi wern't far off their rookie season. Do you trade away your future when you're not even in the playoffs?

Jan 1999 - Felix Potvin from the leafs for Byron Berard.

This is just one of those trades you have to shake you head and wonder what did I ever to do to deserve being a fan of a team with such a crappy GM. Berard was in his 3rd season, wearing the 'C', having come off year one and year two with 48 points, the calder trophy and 46 points respectively. This would put him in the top 15 of scoring for defense men. Even worse, the Islanders had Tommy Salo who was holding things together on a losing team. Potvin was passed his prime and discarded for Curtis Joseph by the leafs. Trades for top young defencemen happen, but they don't happen without a good reason and a very good return.

1999- Josh Green, Olli Jokinen, Mathieu Biron and round 1 pick in the 1999 draft (Taylor Pyatt) for Ziggy Pallfy, Marcel Cousineau, Bryan Smolinski and round 4 pick in the 1999 draft (Daniel Johansson)

This was a huge trade. Initially it looks decent. The Islanders were desperate to dump salary and they pick up 3 recent 1st round picks and a 1st round pick in the upcoming draft, for one of the best players in the NHL. The problem is either they traded these prospects away shortly after or they never developed to their full potential, i'm not sure if we can blame Milbury, but it sure is suspicious.... Is it possible someone could be paid to lose??

2000 -The Island gets Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha for Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo.

This weirdest trade in recent memory. The island picks up a big time prospect from LA Olli Jokinen (taken 3rd overall in 1997) in a package deal for Ziggy Pallfy in 1998. They also draft future big time star Roberto Luongo 4th overall in 1997. They don't have any money at the time, but it's not like these rookies are making the big dollars. Goalies notoriously take years to develop as do power forwards. End result, the islanders lose a point per game power forward and one of the best goalies in the nhl for a 2nd and 3rd liner. Nice job!

2001- No one could ever forget - Alexei Yashin was sent to the New York Islanders for defenceman Zdeno Chára, forward Bill Muckalt and the second overall draft selection, which the Senators used to draft highly-touted centerman Jason Spezza. Islanders' GM Mike Milbury promptly re-signed Yashin to an enormous 10-year, $87.5 million USD contract.

I don't even know where to begin with this one. You have to start wondering if Milbury was intentionally trying to make an ass of himself and lose. Yashin had NEVER performed in the playoffs, held out twice in his career and only had career point years when his contract was on the line. Chara the biggest player in nhl history goes on to bring playoff success to the sens and later bruins, captain the bruins, winning the norris trophey, going to all star games, and racking up multiple 40 and 50 point seasons. Spezza, mr. point per game for the sens, muckalt was a bust. The only semblance of logic that I can find is Milbury was trying to get a superstar, Chara hadn't put up big numbers, spezza hadn't been drafted. Maybe he thought he was getting a steal....

Other blunders you can research, Darius Kasparatis, Rick Dipietro, Wade Redden, Eric Brewer, and Tim Connolly.

My conclusions on Mr. Milbury.

Can, somehow, draft players with TONS AND TONS of potential. But, has no concept of developing players. Cannot see into the future, he only can look in the present and recent past to make trade and team decisions. He has no clue what will make a team win.

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