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06 June 2009 @ 11:31 pm
America Needs Heroes: Why Not Just Take Canada's?  
First, let me say that even on good days, I miss the CBC - Mansbridge, Mercer, 22 Minutes, and that's just the TV. But you try watching hockey on American tv and things get really ugly - which leads me to this letter I've sent to NBC.

As a Canadian, Mike Milbury had me wanting to go into my tv set and beat Mr. Milbury with his own shoe. (For those of you too young to remember, or without the ability to ask former Bruins coach Bep Guidolin just what I am talking about, here's the video. Mike's at the top left of the frame at about the 38-second mark.)


During the second-period intermission of Saturday night's NBC broadcast of game five of the Stanley Cup finals, analyst Mike Milbury, a former NHL player with the Boston Bruins and coach and GM with both the Bruins and the Islanders, segued from a discussion of the game at hand to link it to the anniversary of D-Day. He paid tribute to the one-hundred-odd NHL players who served in the Second World War, and singled out by name Conn Smythe, Howie Meeker and Milt Schmidt.

He called them "great hockey players and great Americans."

Inspiring, except for the detail that none of them were Americans.

Conn Smythe was born in Toronto and served in the First World War, first as a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, where he earned the Military Cross, and then as a member of the Royal Flying Corps, spending the last year as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down. In the Second World War, Smythe volunteered again, serving in the Canadian Army; he was badly wounded in July 1944.

Howie Meeker and Milt Schmidt were both born in Kitchener, Ontario, and both served in the Second World War with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Meeker was badly wounded by a grenade, while Schmidt, along with fellow Kraut Liners Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, missed three years of NHL hockey wihile serving with the RCAF.

Mr. Milbury is a knowledgeable hockey man and was a fearsome defenceman, but as an amateur historian he is at best badly misinformed. His mischaracterization of Messrs. Smythe, Meeker and Schmidt as Americans is an insult to them and to their services to hockey, to their Canadian military service, and to Canadians, not to mention to American hockey players who served and died in defence of their country, such as Hobey Baker, who died in the First World War, and Frank Brimsek, Schmidt's teammate and a World War II veteran of the Coast Guard.

Mr. Milbury should immediately apologize for his error.