Five years ago next Wednesday, Charles Wang finally pulled the chute on Mike Milbury's career as a General Manager. For some bizarre reason, Wang chose to leave Milbury in the position of Interim General Manager until his replacement was named seven months later.
Milbury was a goon during his playing days, accumulating more than two minutes of penalties per game played, and was known as the goon who climbed into the stands to fight a fan with a shoe. After his career, he spent six years in Boston, coaching one of the most talented teams in the league to a President's Cup and nothing else. His hubris knew no bounds - he was the coach who selected, Chris Nilan and Brian Skrudland to the 1991 Wales Conference team at the 1991 All-Star Game. After his coaching career, he headed to management on Long Island.
Milbury stayed with the Islanders for eleven seasons. Milbury left a franchise in ruins. Think about this for a moment - prior to his arrival as head coach, the Islanders made the playoffs seventeen of twenty-three years since coming into the league in 1972. Milbury served as head coach during four seasons in which he was fired twice, and the Islanders did not make the playoffs. During his eleven seasons as General Manager, the Islanders made the playoffs three times, compared to the seventeen playoff appearances in twenty-three seasons prior to Milbury's arrival.
Selecting Chris Nilan and Brian Skrudland to the All-Star Game was not the worst or even second-worst move that Milbury made. After the jump, we'll look at his history as a General Manager.
All information taken from the wonderful NHL Trade History
To Islanders: Kenny Jonsson, Darby Hendrickson, Sean Haggerty and a 1st round pick in 1997 (Roberto Luongo).
To Toronto: Wendel Clark, Matthieu Schneider and D.J. Smith
June 1, 1996
To Dallas: Brad Lukowich
To Islanders: 3rd round pick in 1997
Sept 4, 1996
To Colorado: Brent Severyn
To Islanders: 3rd round pick in 1997
Nov 17, 1996
To Islanders: Bryan Smolisnki
To Pittsburgh: Darius Kasparaitus and Andreas Johansson
Nov 27, 1996
To Islanders: Paul Kruse
To Calgary: Colorado's 3rd round pick in 1997 (previously acquired)
March 18, 1997
To Hartford: Derek King
To Islanders: 5th round pick in 1997 (Adam Edinger)
To Islanders: Robert Reichel
To Calgary: Marty McInnis, Tyrone Garner, and a 6th round pick in 1997 (Ilja Demidov)
February 6, 1998
To Anaheim: Doug Houda, Travis Green and Tony Tuzzolino
To Islanders: Mark Janssens, JJ Daigneault and Joe Sacco
To Islanders: Trevor Linden
To Vancouver: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe, and a 3rd round pick in 1998 (Jarko Ruutu)
March 23rd, 1998
To Islanders: Gino Odjick
To Canucks: Jason Strudwick
[Editor's note: we can also blame Milbury for bringing Jason Strudwick to the Western Conference and eventually the Edmonton Oilers where he's become one of the worst players in the NHL.]
May 30th 1998
To Islanders: Dimitri Nabokov
To Chicago: J.P. Dumont
January 9th, 1999
To Toronto: to Bryan Berard and Isles' 6th round pick (Jan Sochor) in 1999 Draft.
To Islanders: Felix Potvin and 6th round pick in
March 9th, 1999
To Islanders: 3rd round pick in 1999
To Canadiens: Scott Lachance
March 20, 1999
To Islanders: Mats Lindgren and Oilers 8th round pick in 1999
To Edmonton Oilers: Tommy Salo
To Islanders: 4th Round pick
To Ottawa Senators: Ted Donato
To Islanders: Brad Isbister, and Coyotes' 3rd round pick in 1999 (Brian Collins).
To Coyotes: Robert Reichel, a 3rd round pick (Jason Jaspers), and Ottawa's 3rd round pick in 1999 (Preston Mizzi)
March 22, 1999
To Islanders: 4th round pick in 1999.
To Devils: Sergei Nemchinov
May 29th 1999
To Islanders: 1st round pick in 1999 (Branislav Mezei).
To Canadiens: Trevor Linden
June 20, 1999
To Islanders: Olli Jokinen, Josh Green, Mathieu Biron, and King's 4th round pick in 1999.
To Los Angeles Kings: Ziggy Palffy, Bryan Smolinski, and Marcel Cousineau
December 19, 1999
To Islanders: Bill Muckalt, Kevin Weekes and Dave Scatchard.
To Vancouver: Felix Potvin and 2nd and 3rd round (Thatcher Bell) picks in 2000
June 24th, 2000
To Islanders: Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha
To Panthers: Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen
To Islanders: 2000 first round pick (#5-Raffi Torres), 2000 fourth round pick (#105-Vladimir Gorbunov), 2000 seventh round pick (#202-Ryan Caldwell)
To Tampa: Kevin Weekes, Kristian Kudroc, 2001 second round pick (#31-Matthew Spiller)
January 3rd, 2001
To Islanders: Jason Blake
To Los Angeles: conditional pick in 2002.
June 22nd, 2001
To Islanders: the rights to Adrian Aucoin and Alexander Kharitonov.
To Tampa: Mathieu Biron, 2nd round pick in the 2002
March 11th, 2003
To Islanders: Justin Papineau and a 2nd round pick in 2003.
To St. Louis Blues: Chris Osgood and a 3rd round pick in 2003
March 11th, 2003
To Islanders: Janne Niinimaa and a 2nd round pick in 2003
To Oilers: Brad Isbister and Raffi Torres.
March 9th, 2004
To Islanders: Alexander Karpovstev
To Chicago Blackhawks: 4th round pick in 2004.
August 3: To Edmonton Oilers: Michael Peca
To New York Islanders: Mike York and a conditional draft pick in 2006
August 3: To New York Islanders: Brent Sopel
To Vancouver Canucks: 3rd round pick in 2006
January 10, 2006
To New York Islanders : John Erskine and a 2nd round pick in 06
To Dallas Stars: Janne Niinimaa and a 5th round pick in 2007 (Ondrej Roman)
March 8, 2006 :
To Los Angeles Kings : Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel
To New York Islanders: Denis Grebeshkov , Jeff Tambellini and a conditional 3rd round pick
March 9, 2006
To New Jersey Devils : Brad Lukowich
To New York Islanders : 3rd round pick in 2006
March 9, 2006
: To Phoenix Coyotes: Oleg Kvasha and a conditional 5th round pick in 2006
To New York Islanders : 3rd round pick in 2007 and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2007
It seems like Milbury runs out of steam in his later career, but by that time, he'd traded every valuable piece in the Islanders organization. I'd like to try and summarize this, but I can't. Milbury dumped every piece of talent he had for nothing.
After all of this, this mess, Milbury was fired by Charles Wang. He was "promoted' to Vice President of Wang Properties, a promotion to keep him away from further screwing the Islanders, something he'd perfected in his long tenure. After quitting the VP job in 2007, he was immediately hired by TSN, NBC and NESN as a studio analyst to lend expert analysis to their panel. Expert analysis? From a goon, turned terrible coach turned General Manager that torched a franchise?
The Islanders are still recovering from the Milbury years, yet the man that wrecked the team and franchise is paid to go on television each night and tell fans what other teams are doing wrong. At this point, it's like being advised about your health by Dr. Kevorkian.