In August, we learned that NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was announced on Twitter that Olczyk had successful surgery and will have undergo chemotherapy. The treatment will cause Olczyk to miss the first part of the season. So in his place, NBC has tapped studio analyst Mike Milbury to substitute for Edzo until he returns.
Milbury told USA Today’s Kevin Allen that he’ll be calling games with Mike Emrick on both NBC and NBCSN at least through New Year’s Day meaning he’ll have high profile assignments for the NHL on NBC such as the season opener, the annual Black Friday game and the Winter Classic.
Milbury is quick to point that he’s not replacing Olczyk, just keeping his seat warm:
“When you have a problem, someone has to fill in,” Milbury told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m a little nervous about it. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of. But the good news is when you are sitting next to someone as polished and celebrated as Doc Emrick you can just ride shotgun and not worry much. I hope.”
Milbury is known for being a habitual linestepper for saying things way out of the ordinary whether it’s about concussions, the old home of the Detroit Red Wings, calling Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin “crack addicts,” basically angering fans to the point where they tried to get him removed off television.
Now Milbury has only worked eight to ten games (by his own count) as a game analyst so he’s not sure exactly what his style will be. He admits that being a studio analyst and being a game analyst are two completely different animals. He realizes that in the studio, he has time to think about what he’ll say in between periods while in the broadcast booth, he’ll have to be quick on his feet.
NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood says he’s happy to get Milbury out of the studio:
“Sometimes being in a studio for a long period of time you don’t touch the field, don’t touch the players. I think it will be fun for Mike to be in a place that made his life.”
But even though Milbury will be spewing analysis in short spurts, he won’t be a leopard changing its spots just because he’s a game analyst now:
“I am like Popeye,” he said. “I am what I am. But I don’t know what is going to happen because I haven’t done this enough. But I think there is less room for bombastic comments than there is in the studio.”
He knows that he’s just Olcyzk’s substitute until he returns. Milbury says he’s hopeful Edzo will be back in his rightful place next to Emrick in the second half of he season.