Mike Milbury was a rugged defenceman played over 750 games for the Boston Bruins in the 1970s and '80s. His defensive zone coverage was exemplary and he used an assortment of tactics to thwart opposition forwards.
Born in Brighton, Massachusetts, Milbury signed as a free agent with the Bruins after playing with Colgate University in 1972-73. He spent most of his first two pro seasons with the AHL's Rochester Americans and represented the U.S. at the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976.
Beginning in 1976-77, the tenacious defender was a regular on the Boston blueline for eleven years. He helped the club reach the Stanley Cup final in 1977 and 1978 and continually finish with one of the best goals against records in the NHL. During the club's rebuilding phase in the '80s, Milbury's leadership on and off the ice was a factor in keeping the club competitive despite the large number of new faces in the line up. The veteran defenceman was also the team's representative with the NHLPA and did not hesitate to speak out on several controversial issues, notably the role of Alan Eagleson.
After retiring as a player in 1987, Milbury coached the Maine Mariners of the AHL. Between 1989 and 1991 he coached the Boston Bruins to 90 wins. During his first year behind the bench, he guided the team all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Since 1995-96, Milbury has guided the New York Islanders' rebuilding process as the club's general manager. He also coached the team for parts of three seasons. Prior to the 2001-02 season, he made considerable noise by obtaining Alexei Yashin, Mike Peca, and Chris Osgood for his quickly improving club.
After his off-season acquisitions, Milbury's Islanders made their first playoff appearance since the 1994-95 season. Although they were eliminated in the first round, the Islanders looked to build on their success in 2002-03. Milbury continued to retool his roster in 2002-03, acquiring offensive defenceman Janne Niinima from the Edmonton Oilers.