Thursday, March 24, 2011
After playing for three seasons for the Colgate Red Raiders of the ECAC, defenseman Mike Milbury was an undrafted free agent who signed with his hometown team, the Boston Bruins.
While with Colgate, Milbury played a total of 76 games and scored 6 goals and 55 assists while amassing 203 penalty minutes while leading Colgate in penalties in both 1973 and 1974.
The Bruins assigned Milbury to their top minor league affiliate, the Rochester Americans for the 1974-75 season. There he continued his rugged ways, only now free from the restraints of the rules of NCAA college hockey and allowed to drop the gloves at will. 246 penalty minutes later, Milbury led the Americans in penalty minutes while having the fourth most in the AHL.
During his second season in Rochester, this time with a somewhat more restrained 199 penalty minutes, Milbury made his NHL debut with three games with the Bruins prior to appearing in 11 playoff games for Boston.
The following season Milbury was now a full time Bruin. He scored his first NHL goal on his way to 6 that season, as well as a total of 24 points. It was on this date however, that Milbury broke a 50 year old Bruins record when he was whistled for a major and a misconduct, which gave him 166 penalty minutes for the season, breaking a record held by Eddie Shore since 1927.
The 1977-78 season saw Milbury establish a career high in points with 8 goals and 30 assists for 38 points as well as 151 minutes in the penalty box. He would add another 9 points during the playoffs, also a career high, as the Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row.
The 1978-79 season was one of consistency, as Milbury posted nearly identical numbers as the year before, with 35 points and 149 penalty minutes. His season, if not his career, would be remembered for once incident however, as Milbury was captured by the TV cameras entering the stands at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 1979 after teammate Terry O'Reilly scaled the glass and entered the stands in pursuit of a New York Rangers fan, who had taken the Bruins' Stan Jonathan's stick and clouted him with it during a postgame scrum next to the glass, which was much lower those days than it is now.
Milbury, having already made his way back to the Bruins dressing room, heard of the fracas and rushed to the scene in the stands, where he saw none other than Peter McNab (who totaled just 4 penalty minutes the previous season!) fully engaged with a fan who had been hitting O'Reilly while O'Reilly was fighting with his brother.
Claiming the fan had kicked him, Milbury tore off the fan's shoe and proceeded to beat him with it, clearly taking the approach of "act first, ask questions later". Milbury was later fined $500 and suspended for six games for his part in the incident.
Perhaps chagrined by the entire incident at Madison Square Garden, Milbury set a career high in goals with 10 in 1979-80 and was called for a mere 59 minutes in penalties, 90 minutes less than the year before and easily the lowest amount of his career. During the playoffs however, Milbury nearly equalled his season total with 50 minutes in just 10 games.
The Milbury of old returned in 1980-81 with a vengeance, as he set a career high with 222 minutes, one shy of O'Reilly's team leading 223.
He was limited to just 51 games in 1981-82, ending a streak of seven professional seasons with 71 games or more. He was back to his usual 78 games played the following season, racking up 9 goals and 216 penalty minutes to easily lead the Bruins with more than double any of his teammates. The Bruins missed the playoffs that season for the only time in Milbury's 12 years with the Bruins.
He would play four more seasons with Boston before retiring, leading the Bruins in penalty minutes once more in 1983-84.
His final NHL totals were 754 games played, 49 goals and 189 assists for 238 points. His final penalty minute total stands at 1,552, second all time behind only teammate O'Reilly.
Today's featured jersey is a 1976-77 Boston Bruins Mike Milbury jersey, as worn during Milbury's record breaking rookie season when he broke Eddie Shore's 50 year old mark.
The Bruins adopted this style jersey in 1974-75 when the removed the shoulder yoke from thier previous jerseys. In 1976-77, the bear head logos appeared on the shoulders for the first time and names on the back arrived permanently the following year. While there were some changes in the font used for the numbers over time, this style would remain in use all the way through the 1994-95 season.
In today's video segment, Milbury recounts his involvement in the fracas in Madison Square Garden in 1979 with the benefit of many years time to refine his story.