SBD/March 1, 2012/Media

NBC Sports Net's Mike Milbury, Jeremy Roenick Get Into Spirited Debate Over Hits

NBC Sports Network’s NHL coverage last night featured a heated exchange between analysts Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick about a hit to the head by Stars F Eric Nystrom on Penguins D Kris Letang. Milbury said Letang was in a “vulnerable position,” but Roenick followed by saying, “He put himself in a vulnerable position.” The following are excerpts of the back and forth.

Milbury: “The whole point is we have to change the way the guys look at it. You’re not supposed to try to decapitate the player who’s got the puck. ... I’m talking about changing the players’ mindset.”
Roenick: “It was a solid bodycheck. ... His head wasn’t hit. His chin might have been grazed, but his head was not hit. The shoulder and the elbow hit the chest. I saw it on five or six different angles.”
Milbury: “He clipped him with the shoulder on the head right here. Whether it’s targeted or not is not for me to say. I’m not in his head.”
Roenick: “You know what, we should just take hitting out of hockey.”
Milbury: “Oh, stop with that, J.R. You accuse me of being soft. I’m accusing you of making a marshmallow look firm.”

At this point, both analysts seemed to be annoyed about the other’s stance on the argument and they began talking over each other in condescending tones.

Roenick: “You’re getting soft.”
Milbury gestured for Roenick to leave and said, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, will ya? Consider this the last time you’re on.”
Roenick: “If I get hit in the head, are you going to give that a major penalty too?”
Milbury: “Take a hike.”
Roenick: “This comes from a guy, Mr. Tough Guy over here.” Roenick then looks into the camera and mouths the words softly, “He’s soft.”

Co-host Bill Patrick, who had been signaling for a timeout, chimed in and said, “We’re not going to solve anything here.” He said to Roenick, “Thanks for being a good sport.” Roenick said about Milbury, “I’m going to go get him a Shirley Temple after.” Milbury and Roenick finally settled down and NBC Sports Network’s Keith Jones introduced the next highlight segment and said, “What a beautiful act to follow. See ya, J.R.” At that moment, you can hear Milbury say in the background, “Yeah, go away” (NBC Sports Network, 2/29).

REAX: DEADSPIN's Timothy Burke wrote NBC's Bill Patrick "tried valiantly to cool the pair down, to no avail." With NBC Sports Network's ratings struggling, maybe some "animosity is what the network needs -- if only to get people talking about it" (DEADSPIN.com, 2/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote, "This is what passes for hockey talk in U.S. television" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/29).
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