BOSTON – Milt Schmidt, the hockey hall of famer who led Boston to two Stanley Cup championships as the center of the “Kraut Line,” served Canada in World War II and returned to the NHL to win its MVP award and two more titles as the Bruins general manager, died on Wednesday, the team said.
He was 98.
Schmidt was the oldest living NHL player. He was the only person in Bruins history to serve as captain, coach and general manager.
“It would be a challenge to find anyone who took greater pride in being a Boston Bruin than Milt Schmidt did – be it as a player, an executive or an ambassador over the 80-plus years he served the franchise, the city of Boston and the National Hockey League,” commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Schmidt’s Boston teams won the Stanley Cup in 1939 and in ‘41. When he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force two months after Pearl Harbor along with “Kraut Line” mates Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, they were carried off the ice on the shoulders of the archrival Montreal Canadiens.
“When they grabbed Bobby, Woody and myself, we felt like saying, ‘What are they doing?’ Well we found out in a hurry that they all grabbed us and carried us off the ice,” Schmidt said before a 2016 ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of his NHL debut. “That goes to show you that you have friends – although you are bitter enemies, you had friends in the National Hockey League. Not necessarily on the ice, but off the ice.”
A native of Kitchener, Ontario, Milton Conrad Schmidt played with Bauer and Dumart in the junior leagues before they were reunited as the “Kraut Line” in the NHL for the 1936-37 season. With the three players of German heritage, the Bruins won two NHL championships, and in 1940 the linemates finished as the top three scorers in the league – the only time teammates finished 1-2-3 in scoring.
Schmidt missed three full seasons for World War II but returned to score career highs of 27 goals and 62 points in the 1946-47 season. He won the 1951 Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player after totaling 61 points in 62 games.
Schmidt played four more seasons before retiring at the age of 36 with 229 goals, 346 assists and 466 penalty minutes. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. The Bruins retired his No. 15 in 1980. His coaching record during two stints on the Bruins bench was 245-360-121 in 726 games.