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Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘It’s a wide-open league right now’ 11.24.10 at 1:07 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. The Bruins are coming off a loss to the Lightning on Monday in which they got off to a slow start and fell 3-1. “It’s a tough league, and if you’re not ready to play, you’re going to get beat,” he said. “And the Bruins clearly weren’t ready to play against Tampa. They looked as bad as they’ve looked all year.”

Added Milbury: “Maybe they’re looking ahead. It’s Florida, that’s one thing. Maybe they went golfing, maybe it was a nice day, maybe too many good-looking chicks on the street in Tampa. I don’t know. But it’s a constant challenge. It’s the art form of coaching, for me, to make sure that your team is read to go. And I think Claude Julien does by and large a real good job of that. But this time, for whatever combinations of reasons, it slipped.”

Milbury was asked if the Bruins are capable of winning the Stanley Cup this season. “It’s a wide-open league right now,” he said. “I think Chicago’s dismantling was an invitation to everybody that was close to pick it up a little, because it’s there. … I think it’s a pretty wide-open horse race. I think they do have the pieces.

“I’d like to see them add a defenseman,” Milbury continued. “I’d like to see them add a defenseman who can generate offense from the point, because they don’t have that right now, or the guys that they have aren’t giving that right now. And I’d also like to see them with a full roster for a little while before I make that assessment. But I think everybody would agree that when [Marco] Sturm comes back and [Marc] Savard comes back, they’re a better team for it. It’s going to cause some shuffling of lines and some disruption and that may take a little while to settle down. But when it’s all said and done, they’re two pretty good players. And any time you can put good players in the lineup, you’re going to get better. The goaltending has been outstanding.

“Yeah, I have to agree with Dale that they have the stuff to get there. I’m not calling them the odds-on favorite, but if it all comes together at the right time, they have a a chance. No question.”

Milbury reminisced about one-time Bruins coach Pat Burns, who died last week at the age of 58 after a lengthy battle with cancer, and said Burns should have been elected to the Hall of Fame this year.

“It was a shame that there wasn’t common sense going around in plenty at the meeting of the Hall of Fame selection committee,” he said. “Everybody knew Pat was not well and time was running short. … Wouldn’t somebody just stand up and say, ‘Come on, guys. He’s going in the Hall of Fame. He’s dying. Let’s get him in before he goes. Let’s have him has his day in the sun so he can really relish it.’ They missed the boat on that. And I don’t get it. I just don’t get why somebody who is that qualified to be in the Hall of Fame — and I think he is, and almost everybody I talk to feels the same way — and I just don’t get why they wouldn’t have honored him under these circumstances.”

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Mike Milbury on D&H: Colin Campbell needs to apologize to Marc Savard immediately 11.17.10 at 1:12 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The main topic of conversation was the controversy involving NHL discipline boss Colin Campbell, whose inflammatory e-mail about Marc Savard caused a firestorm this week.

“When you’re in a position to impact a guy’s life in some way by disciplinary action or heavy fines, which they now have in the NHL, you can’t form those opinions at least in terms of expressing it in a way that goes public,” Milbury said. “The e-mail thing was just simple, logistical — you can’t be that stupid in order to do it. The actual content of it was worse. I think he made a mistake. I don’t think it impacted any judgments that I know of.

“Colie is a terrific guy, he tries to be fair, but he stepped in it. Whether there will be any repercussions or not, I don’t know. The league certainly has a lot of confidence in him, and they should. He does work hard at it.”

Milbury said people should listen to Campbell’s explanation, as he is a trustworthy person. “I think if he felt he was really over-the-top wrong, that he was doing something that was terrible, he would admit it,” Milbury said. “Because I think he’s man enough to do that.”

Added Milbury: “I like him because he’s a down-to-earth, honest guy. I think he screwed up. Did he screw up so badly that he needs to be let go? I can understand the case for it. I can. But when a guy makes a mistake after that length of time doing what I think is a pretty good job in a really difficult situation, I don’t think you have to get rid of him.”

Milbury said Campbell needs to get in touch with Savard, if he hasn’t already.

“If I’m Marc Savard, I’m waiting for a phone call from Colin Campbell apologizing,” Milbury said. “If that hasn’t happened, that’s mistake No. 3. And that, to me, is enough to say, ‘OK, he doesn’t get it or he thinks he’s above it.’ Absolutely, in my mind, that phone call should have been made already. And if it hasn’t been made, it should be made right after he listens to this show [chuckle]. Because it’s needed, it’s necessary and it’s appropriate.”

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Mike Milbury on D&H: Forget about Matt Cooke, B’s have ‘other things to worry about’ 11.10.10 at 12:39 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance with the Dale & Holley show Wednesday and talked about the Bruins’ game on Wednesday night vs. the Penguins and instigator Matt Cooke. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said the Bruins aren’t likely to spend much time focusing on Cooke. “No, they’ve got other things to worry about right now,” Milbury said, although he added that the Bruins will be “much more willing to answer the bell if he rings it.”

Added Milbury: “I’m not big on the staged thing or the planned vengeance. I mean, it’s a hockey game, after all. They got their pound of flesh, or at least some of it, maybe a half-pound with [Shawn] Thornton last year. Get over it, play the game. They’ve got a couple of injuries, they’ve got other things to worry about right now. They’re playing two tough teams back to back. They’ve got to get some points on the board while they’re waiting for people to get back in the lineup.”

Asked his opinion of Cooke as a player, Milbury said: “He’s not a bad player. He’ll get his share of goals. He clearly is a guy that will mix it up, will look for a good hit. And I have no trouble with that. It’s when he crosses the line that you start to get agitated. The Bruins probably were slow to react to some of the things he did, but I don’t think he’s Darth Vader or anything. I just think he’s one of those guys that likes to toe the line, and sometimes he crosses it.”

Andrew Ference stood up for teammate Mark Recchi on Saturady night, jumping in to fight St. Louis’ David Backes after Backes had drilled Recchi with a clean hit. “Somebody’s got to do it for grandpa. You’ve got to step in,” Milbury said, although he noted: “Recchi’s no angel either on the ice. Even at his age he can be frisky.”

With the injured David Krejci joining Marc Savard on the sideline, Milbury said the Bruins can only do so much to fill the holes vacated by their top two centers. “When you take two of your better players out of the lineup, you’re not going to replace them,” Milbury said. “Not in the salary cap era. You just can’t do it.”

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Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘What goes on in the mind of Tuukka Rask?’ 11.03.10 at 1:03 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and league news. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Most of the discussion focused on the Bruins’ goaltending situation, with Tim Thomas handling the bulk of duties while promising youngster Tuukka Rask sits.

Said Milbury: “It’s a happy problem, but you wonder what goes on in the mind of Tuukka Rask under these circumstances. I was talking to Kelly Hrudey last week, the Hockey Night in Canada analyst with me, and he said, ‘He may not know it, but this could be the best thing to happen to Rask. He’s got to earn that right to be called the No. 1. It’s not always easy and it’s not always a given.’ And he’s right. I’m sure Tuukka Rask doesn’t really look at it that way, but in some ways, it’s not a bad thought. Rask has to continue to compete. It keeps him sharp. The question is, When does he get the chance to go again?”

Added Milbury: “I think we mentioned last week, the schedule’s been so uneven. They’ve got to get into a rhythm at some point. And at that point, I think because of the way Thomas plays, although he’s been fairly compact and economical through the first part of the season, he still has a tendency to want to explode out and dive here and there. It will take its toll, and they’ll need Rask. And Rask will have his chance then. But who saw this coming?”

Milbury said he’s not aware that Thomas was close to being dealt last season. “I never heard anything that anything was imminent,” Milbury said. “I think there were a lot of people kicking tires, but they weren’t kicking them as hard as they would be if they were shopping him right now, I would think. He had an uneven season, and he had a bunch of years left on his contract, and he’s always been looked on as, ‘I can’t believe he’s doing this.’ There seems to be some degree of incredulity that he can make this thing happen. But he does. He does through his competitiveness and his athleticism, and his mindset.”

Milbury said the Bruins might have to consider moving Thomas, but only if an enticing trade offer is made.

“It would be interesting to see if they shopped him around, and he’d be willing to be traded, if that would bring A) cap relief and B) fill a hole someplace else, i.e., the blue line, where they’re thinner than I’d like them to be,” Milbury said, adding: ”I don’t think there’s going to be any talk of that. I think things are so good right now for the Bruins, that if Peter Chiarelli is looking for cap relief, he’s probably going to look in a different direction. And I certainly don’t blame him. It would be a really gutsy move to make that deal, and if somebody came with a sweetheart of a deal, you’d have to take a look at it, knowing that Rask played as well.”

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Nathan Horton on D&H: ‘It’s like a family already’ 10.22.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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Nathan Horton

Nathan Horton

Bruins forward Nathan Horton checked in with the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the B’s fast start to the season. Horton has four goals and three assists in five games as the Bruins have gone 4-1-0.

To hear the interview, including Horton’s thoughts on David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Horton is enjoying his new team after spending his first six seasons with the Florida Panthers in the Miami area, where hockey obviously does not have the same importance. “This is what every player dreams about playing, just this type of atmosphere, and this city,” he said of Boston. “It’s not like you can imagine. Once you’re there, it’s pretty amazing.”

Horton said no matter where he is, his style remains the same. “You have to perform,” he said. “Even if you’re not putting up points or anything, you have to work hard and be a team guy and just play hard for your teammates. I think that’s what everyone’s trying to do. We like each other as a team. It’s like a family already. Everyone gets along. It’s an unbelievable feeling when you want to come to the rink every day, you’re going to win games, and I think everyone’s having fun.”

Regarding the B’s goaltending situation, Horton said Tuukka Rask has not shown any signs of disappointment despite serving as Tim Thomas‘ backup the last four games. “He’s been great,” Horton said. “He knows he’s a great goaltender. He’s going to get his shot. … He’s still having fun. Nobody can score on him in practice, too.”

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Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘Pleasant dilemma’ for B’s with goalies 10.20.10 at 12:46 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The first topic of conversation was the Bruins’ goaltending situation. Tim Thomas has started the last three games, after Tuukka Rask appeared in the season opener.

“I’m a little surprised they went with [Thomas] three in a row given the fact that they had so much time off,” Milbury said. “Apparently they’re going to use Rask either Thursday or Saturday, but that’s a long layoff beteween starts. However, as you guys both know, it’s a pleasant dilemma to have when your goaltending is too deep. You can’t knock what Thomas has done in his three starts. He’s been terrific. Rask is going to have to wait his chance again.”

Asked if the Bruins might be showcasing Thomas for a possible trade, Milbury said, “No, I don’t think so, not at this stage. It may be a byproduct of him playing well, but I don’t think it’s intentional. I think Claude [Julien] is just going with a guy he thinks can win him a hockey game.”

Milbury said he didn’t understand the negative reaction to his comments from last week that Tyler Seguin will not be an impact player in his first season. “I was surprised, because it had nothing to do with an evaluation of Tyler Seguin as time goes on. It had to do with what is this guy going to being now,” Milbury said. “If you ask Peter Chiarelli or Cam Neely or Claude Julien, I don’t think any one of them thinks he’s going to be “an impact player” this season. I don’t think that’s the expectation. A contributor, yes, he can be. But I think it’s going to take him a couple of years [to be an impact player].”

Added Milbury: “Time will tell how good he is. But for anybody to think he should be an impact player in his first season hasn’t followed the game a lot.”

As for the Bruins’ 3-1 start, Milbury said: ”I think they’ve had a pretty nice blend over the last three games of opening it up [offensively] when they’ve had to, and being able to shut it down at the same down when they’re responsible, as they usually are.”

Canucks center Rick Rypien aggressively pushed a fan on his way to the dressing room Tuesday night in Minnesota. Milbury, famous for his role in the Bruins’ brawl in the stands at Madison Square Garden in 1979, said Rypien’s actions were inexcusable, but there are things teams can do to make it a safer situation.

“Why they allow such immediate access to players is beyond me,” Milbury said, adding: “You really don’t want fans close enough so that if a guy is ticked off about something that he can react in the spur of the moment because he’s lost his cool. … Getting them away from the players as they exit and enter the arena to me seems like a pretty simple and sane idea.”

Added Milbury: I don’t know how severe the penalty will be, but they’ve got to do it. They have to keep that sanctity [where] player and fan has to be protected at all times. There’s no excuses, no matter what.”

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Mike Milbury on D&H: Tyler Seguin ‘not an impact player’ 10.13.10 at 1:22 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury made the first of his weekly appearances on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked about rookie Tyler Seguin and the impact he could have this season, Milbury said Bruins fans will need to be patient. “I’ll answer the question without having seen him enough: He’s not going to be an impact player this season. He’s not,” Milbury said. “Those players are very few and far between. I’d put big money that he’s not an impact player. Does he get 15-20 goals? Maybe. Thirty points, 50 points tops, but that’s not an impact player. And when [Marc] Savard comes back — and I assume he will — he’ll have a tough time finding ice time.”

With the Bruins signing Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract extension last week, Milbury voiced his displeasure with long-term deals, citing the risk of injury and psychological letdown. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it for anybody, let alone the Bruins,” Milbury said. “And they’re not the only ones making questionable decisions with the salary cap. I mean, the team they play next, New Jersey, is a mess. They can’t even dress the full complement of players because of the cap issue.”

Added Milbury: “I don’t like long-term contracts. It’s a heartbeat away. You never know what these contracts will do a player’s psyche. This is not baseball. It’s not like you might not get hurt. You’re going to get hurt. It’s just how seriously.

“The team has made its bet on these core players. And we’ll find out in two years, three years maximum whether this core has the stuff to win a Stanley Cup championship. But the bet’s been made. And we’ll find out if it was a good one or not.”

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