Mike Milbury doesn't seem like a guy that puts a lot of stock in new technology. His opinions on how hockey should be played are predictably, and perhaps admirably, from the old school. He has no use for advanced hockey stats. His pop culture references are both dated and misguided. He's also had the same haircut since 1990.
So a marriage between Mike Milbury and Twitter probably never had a chance. Despite that, on April 9th, 2012, the lights flickered, the sparks flew and the official @MrMikeMilbury account croaked to life with exactly zero fanfare or recognition from the hockey world.
With only twenty tweets between the 9th and 30th of April and a paltry 47 followers (46 before I added myself to the list this past Saturday), Milbury's twitter account is a stunted, halted experiment in evolution. But, like studying the fossilized skull of a neanderthal man trapped in frozen tundra, it is an intriguing glimpse into a mind few can comprehend.
Milbury's first tweet was a re-tweet from the official NHL account which also appears to have been his first follow. His second message, and first original work, is as predictable as a sunrise or a failed draft pick.
New to this @twitter thing!— Mike Milbury(@MrMikeMilbury) April 9, 2012
A tweet similar to this one this probably opens the vast majority of the 500 million active accounts on the service. At least, the accounts that aren't porn-spam-bots. So a person of Milbury's verbal...creativity using it is somewhat disappointing and, as we shall see, indicative of his entire account.
His use of the word "thing," here and again below, is interesting in that it is the common, reflexive refrain of a man who has difficulty controlling machines.
His next tweet is one of a series of messages in which Milbury addresses the issue of his followers, or lack thereof. Not happy with the small number of readers following him, Milbury displays the stoic patience and thoughtfulness that was the hallmark of his career.
@nhlpa get me more followers jack— Mike Milbury(@MrMikeMilbury) April 11, 2012
Gaining Twitter followers isn't easy. It requires exposure, diligence, a little luck and, above all else, being interesting. Which is why there are animals with more followers than most people, including myself.
Rather than writing the type of comments that keep him employed by both NBC and the CBC (i.e. reactionary, ill-informed, poorly-aimed contrarian hot air torpedoes), Milbury seems content to let the accounts of colleagues bring the public to him. While the first two seem like genial attempts at self-deprecating calls for followers, the second two sound more like direct orders.
After being on Twitter for barely two days, an apparently frustrated Milbury appears to demand someone named Jack at the NHLPA and the entire Philadelphia Flyers organization get his name out there. It's unknown exactly how many followers he had at the time but experts agree that, if he could, Milbury would have traded a few of his less active ones for four or five other people... that probably would have proven to be even less effective.
Also, that Milbury hadn't explored Twitter enough to discover the Direct Message option is not surprising.
Sadly, these are by far the most notable tweets in Milbury's short timeline. What passes for his hockey analysis wouldn't support a conversation at your office water cooler. To wit:
@pghpenguins played very well last night. Expect them to continue it— Mike Milbury(@MrMikeMilbury) April 19, 2012
That tweet refers to the Penguins' 10-3 sweep-preventing win over the Flyers in Game 4 of their playoff series last Spring. Pittsburgh would win Game 5 but lose the series in overtime of Game 6.
Even his most pointed "interaction" with a follower somehow fizzles, although it is in-line with Milbury's nonsensical-tough-for-toughness-sake TV persona.
@ty_smithsc87 your lucky I have no followers yet kid— Mike Milbury(@MrMikeMilbury) April 10, 2012
Milbury's final two tweets are perhaps the most indicative of his management style with the Islanders. In each, he: A) makes a vague prediction based on only the most recent games he's seen, and B) is dead wrong.
The cup favorite has to be the @nhlflyers with the way they are playing ; only concern is goaltending— Mike Milbury(@MrMikeMilbury) April 24, 2012
@nhlflyers are not going to win the cup, I'm leaning towards Nashville— Mike Milbury(@MrMikeMilbury) April 30, 2012
Examining who he chose to follow is also telling. After the aforementioned official NHL account, five of Milbury's 11 follows are NHL teams: the Penguins, Flyers, Canucks, Red Wings and Sharks, or, as they are also known, five of NBC's "seven designated teams people might care about watching on a Saturday afternoon" (I guess he forgot about the Bruins and Rangers). Three follows are ESPN-related - Sportscenter, ESPN Hockey coverage and the venerable Pierre LeBrun.
Evgeni Malkin gets a follow, although the smart money is on Milbury not being able to read Russian and therefore, even if he had kept up his account, probably skipping over those anyway.
Milbury's other follow is the creator of @HipHopDelivered which tells us...yeah, I have no idea.
Of all the things an official Mike Milbury Twitter account could be, the reality is by far the most anti-climactic and disappointing possible result. Those expecting mea culpas for crimes against Islanders fans ("Berard for Felix Potvin? Geez who peed in my cornflakes that day? #mybad") will find no satisfaction. And anyone looking for Milbury to defiantly defend his record in his immutable, brazen rage ("Hell yes I traded Chara! And I'd do it again! #YOLObitches"), will be left wanting.
In the end, Mike Milbury, feared destroyer of franchises and professional speaker of outlandish things, is just another guy who tried Twitter and didn't like it. Hey, it happens.
Which means if you want to follow a former Islanders general manager on Twitter, you better make sure you own a suit.
This is not a parody. The account's legit. This is my "boy who cried wolf" moment.
Although Milbury's real account turned out to be a bummer, the man has inspired no less than eight parody accounts.
For more Mike Milbury fun, be sure to check out Mark's seminal series "The Lost Milbury Files."