Well, since I’m responsible for this, I might as well come clean.
I honestly didn’t think it would blow up the way it did. Maybe it didn’t blow up as a big as I think* it did. But 1,600 Facebook shares, 100 some tweets and a few thousand pageviews later, I guess I can reasonably say a stir was indeed created by my tiny spoof.
To me, the article - and indeed the very idea of Mike Milbury coaching the Rangers - is obviously a joke. The URL says “satire-the-horror-the-horror.” The links on the side contain “LOL Rangers,” “Worse than Messier,” “Worse than Satan,” “Is Satan” and “Calm down it’s Satire.” And the links at the bottom are not to more stories but instead to Youtube videos of a guy laughing and a train colliding with a truck. Oh, and the last link says “More Totally Fake Stories like this one.” That was enough for me, even before Dom added the final disclaimer.
There is also the insular world of hockey news. When one journalist or blogger hears something, immediately everyone else does, too. NHL news fills up my Twitter timeline in bunches. The same news gets tweeted and retweeted and re-retweeted by everyone for hours.
Very rarely does news just “pop up.” The only exception I can think of was the Tim Thomas trade to the Islanders, which was broken by Eklund. But that was a single transaction of a single, albeit notable, player.
A marquee team naming a coach and holding a press conference - with photo op! - without any prior warning simple wouldn’t happen. When the Rangers name a coach, there will be rumors and a report and a statement and a conference all spanning a couple of days.
And it wouldn’t first be reported by an Islanders blog for Christ’s sake.
Still, despite all this, a lot of people bought the story. And I laughed my ass off. I laughed even harder when Wyshynski wrote about the story on Puck Daddy. While that effectively let the cat out of the bag, it was still plenty funny to see the paranoid fan tweets as well as the always erudite Yahoo! commentariat chime in with its signature mix of humorlessness and mysteriously misplaced rage.
Thankfully, even Rangers fans who fell for it seemed to get a chuckle out of it later. No harm, no foul, I guess. Whoever they get to coach the team, he won’t be Milbury, which is a good thing for them.
The only bad thing about the unexpected fever is that the two follow-up satires I had prepared - identical stories in which Milbury was hired by Dallas and Vancouver, respectively - suddenly took on a different air. Not only did I not want the gag to become stale but, more importantly, I didn’t want Lighthouse Hockey to get a reputation as pranksters or being unreliable. The idea was to entertain, not to create chaos. And I feel Lighthouse Hockey is too valuable and indispensable as a source of Islanders information to jeopardize that.
A follow-up to the story is forthcoming, although you’d be very very hard-pressed to not find it ridiculous. That one will also be the last Milbury parody I write because, frankly, it’s time to move on.
But the biggest joke of all is on Mike Milbury, whose reputation proceeds him. A commenter at LHH wondered if Milbury read or saw the story. I have no idea, but I hope he did. I hope he realizes that the fans that watched him work for 10 years on Long Island are still terrified of what’s he’s capable of.
I used to be a Milbury apologist. True story. With the Islanders’ consistently inconsistent ownership situation, whoever their general manager was would be in a tough spot. To build a competitive team, they’d need to build through the draft, develop prospects and spend smart money on canny free agents. You’d need a lot of patience and brains to outsmart, outpace and, in some cases, out-wait the competition.
Mike Milbury did none of these things. He tried to drive a broken down car at 100 miles per hour and got into wrecks every single year. Judging by his commentary, his years on television haven’t changed his approach to team-building.
He’s the Hockey Boogeyman living under your bed. His name is shorthand for putting your team in the wrong person’s hands. Writing a story about him taking over a team and sending even one hockey fan into a tizzy is the easiest kind of satire to write - one that doesn’t require any set-up.
* - and fuck Facebook for being the most unreadable pile of trash on the internet. How the hell does anyone use that site? It’s a jumbled mess of adds and boxes and typefaces and weirdness. I’m glad people shared the Milbury story there, but it would be nice to see who read it or where it ended up.