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Hockey Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt dies at 98

Milt Schmidt, the hockey Hall of Famer who led Boston to two Stanley Cup championships, served Canada in World War II and returned to the NHL to win its most valuable player award and two more titles as the Bruins’ general manager, has died, Bruins spokesman Matt Chmura said Wednesday.

He was 98 and he had been the oldest living NHL player.

No other details about Schmidt’s death were immediately available.

Schmidt is the only Bruin in franchise history to serve as on-ice captain, coach and general manager. His Boston teams won the Stanley Cup in 1939 and ’41, and when he and linemates Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force two months after the Pearl Harbor attack, they were carried off the ice on the shoulders of the archrival Montreal Canadiens.

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“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 NHL,” he said. “Not necessarily on the ice, but off the ice.”

Milton Conrad Schmidt was born in Kitchener, Ontario, on March 5, 1918. He played with Bauer and Dumart in the junior leagues before they were reunited in the NHL for the 1936-37 season with Schmidt at center. With the three players of German heritage, known by the now-politically incorrect nickname the “Kraut Line,” the Bruins won NHL championships in 1939 and again in ’41, with Schmidt leading the playoff run with five goals and six assists in 11 playoff games.

During World War II, Schmidt considered changing his name to Smith, but decided against it. (The Bruins held a contest to rename the Bauer-Schmidt-Dumart line that came up with the “Buddy Line,” but it didn’t stick.)

Schmidt missed three full seasons during the war, 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 36 with 229 goals, 346 assists and 466 penalty minutes to his credit. He also scored 25 goals and assisted on 48 more in 86 playoff games.

Schmidt was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. The Bruins retired his No. 15 in 1980. At 98, he was back in the new Boston Garden on opening night of the 2016-17 season, when the team celebrated the 80th anniversary of his first game and the 50th anniversary of hockey legend Bobby Orr’s debut.

Before the game, the two argued playfully over who was the franchise’s biggest gem.

“I would go with you, Milty, being the greatest Bruin ever,” Orr said.

“He’s got to say that because I’m sitting right beside him,” Schmidt replied.


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