*NHL on NBC viewers already knew that one Mike (Emrick) wasn't coming back this season due to retirement but they weren't sure about the status of the other Mike on their broadcasts. On Monday, NBC announced its booth and studio teams for the upcoming NHL season and Mike Milbury's time on the network has come to an end.
*This isn't much of a surprise at all after Milbury was banished from the playoff bubble for uttering "not even any woman here to disrupt your concentration" regarding the playing environment in the bubble. It was hardly the first time the cantankerous, knowledgeable, and decidedly old-school Milbury pissed off segments of the audience with his comments. But once he was sent home, it felt like the Rubicon was crossed and seemed to reason that NBC wouldn't think this juice was worth the squeeze anymore. Alas, it didn't.
*Folks should probably wait to, you know, actually see Mike Babcock do some studio work for NBC before simply deciding that's he just Milbury Part Deux.
*Dallas and Pittsburgh both had to cancel practice/scrimmages due to COVID issues and TSN's Pierre LeBrun says hockey fans should probably get used to it.
*Given what we're seeing in the NBA and what went down in the NFL and MLB seasons, NHL followers should prepare themselves for the same shit. The players are not in a bubble anymore and in the same boat as everyone else in that they can do everything the right way yet still become exposed due to the actions of others.
*Since Tampa Bay reversed course, now only three teams will have fans in attendance to start the season: Panthers (FL), Coyotes (AZ), and Stars (TX).
*In an off-season that has unsurprisingly produced more retirements than usual, three other names have joined the list in the last week. Corey Crawford, who backstopped the Blackhawks to two of their three Stanley Cups this century, retired after 15 pro seasons. The goalie signed with New Jersey after the Hawks unceremoniously dumped him this off-season but as the new season approached, Crawford realized he'd already played his last hockey game and called it a career. All due respect to Tony Espo and the Eagle but Crow has to be considered the best goalie in franchise history, no?
*Longtime Predator and recent Avalanche Colin Wilson retired after 11 NHL seasons and nearly 700 games, including a run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final with Nashville. And late yesterday afternoon, Jay Bouwmeester announced he was done after 17 NHL seasons, over 1200 games, and a Stanley Cup championship in 2019. Congrats to each of them. Enjoy retirement.
*Mathew Barzal was the last big-money RFA to sign a deal but it never got ugly between the player and the Islanders. Each side wanted to sign a six-year deal but Lou couldn't make the money work given the currently cap situation league-wide so they agreed on a three-year bridge deal that will pay the crafty forward $21M and set up him for a minimum $8.4M qualifying offer when the deal expires.
*Mike Hoffman officially signed in St. Louis after going through the PTO formality. The UFA sniper will earn $4M this season and he stands to earn himself a huge raise as well as possibly raise the Stanley Cup.
*Now that Patty Bergeron has the C in Boston, there are currently five NHL teams without a captain: Red Wings, Rangers, Senators, Devils, and Golden Knights. However, Detroit is widely expected to name Dylan Larkin team captain any day now.
*The Blackhawks extended head coach Jeremy Colliton and my guy Chief is not happy about it.
*To paraphrase Nucky Thompson of "Boardwalk Empire", you can't be half a tanker. A front office needs to commit and be unsentimental about pawning off assets. It has be willing to ice a competitive roster that lacks major talent and still be bad for 2-3 years before, theoretically, hitting paydirt with young studs and high-end free agents. If a team half-asses it by making moves to ostensibly keep them competitive and appease fans, it ultimately cripples itself in the long run. There's no worse place to be in the NHL than better than a lottery team but worse than a playoff team (formerly known as The Philly Zone). The two Southern Cal teams have committed. They're making short-term sacrifices for, ideally, the long-term success of their franchises. "It's better to burn out than fade awy" --- Def Leppard
*Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the new season and have some Rear Admiral's Gambling Corner selections for you.