Happy Birthday to a wonderful man and legend, Milt Schmidt
|Milt Schmidt in his glory days as a player. (via: Boston Bruins)|
Four Stanley Cups, two as a player and two more as a general manager, Milt Schmidt will forever be remembered by Boston fans all around the world. On top of those cups, Schmidt was the scoring leader in 1940, won the Hart Trophy in 1951, as well as the Lester Patrick award (greatest contribution to hockey in U.S.A.)and played in four different NHL All Star games. Schmidt also had his number 15 retired by the Bruins organization on March 13, 1980, the same night Johnny Bucyk's number 9 was retired.
What most will remember about Schmidt was his role in the "Kraut line" of the Bruins, which contained childhood friends, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer. These three played together in their junior hockey days in Kitchener, Ontario and would become one of the NHL's deadliest and most dangerous line combinations of its time. In the 1939-40 season, the Kitchener Kids finished 1-2-3 in NHL scoring. Unfortunately, World War II prevented the Kraut line from playing three full NHL seasons. However, the stellar play of Milt Schmidt led this line to two Stanley Cups and all three players were voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
During the 1954-55 season, head coach Lynn Patrick was fired by the Bruins mid-season and Schmidt would retire as a player and immediately step in as head coach. He took the Bruins to the semi-finals that season where they ultimately fell short. Schmidt even got the Bruins two more Stanley Cup final appearances in back to back years, during the 1956-57 and 1957-58 seasons. The Montreal Canadians toppled the Bruins in both appearances and could not best Maurice "The Rocket" Richard and Jean Beliveau, two of the best players to play the game. Schmidt went on to coach a total of eleven seasons but could never make another Stanley Cup appearance until Boston promoted him to general manager of the team in 1967.
Being promoted to general manager that year proved to be groundbreaking for Schmidt as the NHL expanded, adding six more franchises and doubling the amount of teams in the league. Schmidt proved to be a true engineer in the expansion era as he built quite a team to capture two more Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. Schmidt made an astonishing deal where he acquired youngsters Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield from the Chicago Blackhawks. All he had to give up were minor players in Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris. This blockbuster deal proved to be pivotal in their success of winning those two Stanley Cups.
Happy 97th Birthday to Milt Schmidt! Thank you for everything you've done for our beloved Boston Bruins.
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