Mike Milbury on D&H: 'Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise'

January 05, 2011 - 7:52 am

NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in for his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Milbury said the calls for Claude Julien to be fired during the Bruins' recent slump were uncalled for. "I didn't think it was fair," Milbury said. "I mean, here's a guy a year just removed a year from the Coach of the Year award and a team that was second overall in the National Hockey League, and I know the story of the collapse as well as anybody, but one game from the conference championship. Then he comes into this season and because of bumps in the road, all of a sudden it's all his fault." Added Milbury: "I don't think at any time did Peter Chiarelli have in mind that this was Claude Julien's fault." Describing Julien's coaching attributes, Milbury said: "I think he's an honest, diligent coach who's fair to his players. I think he's a very even-keeled coach. He's not a ranter or a screamer. I don't think there's as much room for that in today's game with today's player as there was in previous years. '€¦ I think he's a good coach." Milbury has consistently preached that the Bruins need to give more playing time to Tuukka Rask because he is the obvious goalie of the future in Boston while Tim Thomas is toward the end of his career. In the past week, Rask was pulled after one period of a loss to the Sabres but inserted the following game and delivered in a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs. "I think they've been a little unfair to Tuukka Rask," Milbury said. "I think they yanked the chance to be the No. 1 goaltender. And again, we've kind of gone through this before, but Thomas has been incredible. But Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise in terms of goaltending. I don't think he deserves to be given second-tier status or backup status. I would have thought they would have gone to two No. 1 goaltenders for a while. And I was happy he got back in net. I've been wanting to see more of Tuukka Rask, because I think down the line, they're going to need him. It was a great sign that he bounced back. It was a great sign that they gave him an opportunity and a great sign that he bounced back." Milbury was on hand for Saturday night's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh and said it was a memorable event, perhaps even more so after it had to be moved to an evening start due to rain in the forecast. "I thought the night game was tremendous," he said. "Especially on site, the visuals were just amazing '€” the contrast of the stark white ice and the black background of the night, it was just great. Seventy thousand people sat in the stadium and didn't move a muscle until that game was all but over in the last minute or two. It was another good show and another good [ratings] number for NBC." Milbury was asked if he would prefer to have Penguins star Sidney Crosby or Capitals youngster Alexander Ovechkin on his team. Replied Milbury: "Crosby '€” in a case of 'What have you done for me lately?' I mean, I love watching Ovechkin play. There's nobody probably that's more make-you-jump-out of-your-seat-exciting than Ovechkin. But Crosby is a methodical master who is the ultimate professional and reliable. He just goes about his business with a single-mindedness that is unique. Especially for a player as gifted as he his, to have the combination of work ethic and intelligence and his skill level makes him better than anybody in the business right now. The other guy's having fun. And I don't blame him. I'd have fun, too. But you can see he's still a little bit in the goofy stage. I think as he matures, he'll be a different player. I hope he'll be a different player, and a more consistent player."