Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury’s Hat Trick: Bertuzzi’s elbow, Buffalo’s playoff hopes, return of Sidney Crosby


Each week here at ProHockeyTalk, NHL on NBC’s Mike Milbury gives us his take on three hot topics of discussion around the league. We’re happy to have Mike join us and give us his unique and fiery opinions on what’s going on in the NHL.

1. Todd Bertuzzi escaped punishment for his elbow to the head of Chicago’s Ryan Johnson. Do you think the league is being inconsistent in their handling of blows to the head?

No, I don’t think so. It’s tough being totally consistent when every hit is different. It was a reckless play that deserved to be called. It was just stupid technique and it merited a major and was properly punished, I guess. I guess they felt it wasn’t severe enough. He went in recklessly but not with any intent. That’s the way I view it.

Do you think Bertuzzi’s mid-game apology to Johnson played a part in helping him get off?

No, it shouldn’t. If I kill your wife and went in and apologized to you five minutes later, I still killed your wife.

2.  Some nights the Sabres look unbeatable, others they’re getting beaten by teams they shouldn’t lose to. How do you like the Sabres chances in the playoffs?

Well… I don’t think they’ve got a ton of offensive weapons, they’ve got a couple. They rely on their goaltender an awful lot. They’ve still got a chance to make it but I certainly don’t put them in the top echelon of the Eastern Conference. As we all know anybody that makes it has a chance to advance so you can’t rule them out.

Of all the teams you’re looking at, realistically, the one that would make you happy in terms of a draw right now would be Buffalo, Tampa second because they’ve muddled along for a while now. But… Be careful what you wish for.

3.  Sidney Crosby was cleared to skate on game days with the Penguins today. He’s not practicing yet, but do you see him taking the ice with the team in the playoffs?

I think they’ve got to be really careful with him. They should be really careful with him. He’s an incredibly valuable asset to the organization and to the league. I saw him practice a bit on tape, just one-on-one stuff and he looked good enough to buy a ticket to watch just practice. It was an impressive little display that he put on.

They’ve got to go through the whole rigmarole of easing him back in and being careful. I can’t play doctor, he certainly looked good enough to me during his little workout session but once contact comes along who knows. I think everyone is encouraged by his progress and hopeful but… If he’s not going to make it back it won’t be for a lack of trying.

Another Sabre hurt: Gionta (lower body) day-to-day

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On the eve of their season opener, the Buffalo Sabres got another bit of bad health news.

Captain Brian Gionta missed practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, per head coach Dan Bylsma. The ailment puts the 36-year-old’s availability for Thursday’s game against Ottawa in jeopardy.

The ailment also puts Gionta alongside a slew of hurting Sabres. Defensemen Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges were on the injured list when Buffalo’ roster was released this morning, along with rookie Brendan Guhle and veteran Cody McCormick.

There is a bright light for Buffalo, however.

Gorges skated on Wednesday and could possibly dress tomorrow, per Bylsma. If he does play, it’ll likely be on a pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen.

Blues put Berglund on LTIR, use savings to sign Gomez

Scotte Gomez
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As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.

The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.

Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.

He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.