Bruins’ weekly 3 stars: A tribute to Milt Schmidt, the ultimate Bruin

"When you think about the Bruins, you think about Milt Schmidt."

Milt Schmidt, then the coach of the Bruins, greets fans at the annual Globe Hockey School at the Garden in Boston on Dec. 8, 1956.
Milt Schmidt, then the coach of the Bruins, greets fans at the annual Globe Hockey School at the Garden in Boston on Dec. 8, 1956. –Charles Dixon/Globe Staff

COMMENTARY

On Wednesday, the city of Boston, the Bruins and the game of hockey lost a legend. Milt Schmidt passed away at the age of 98. What people know today as “Bruins Hockey” exists thanks to Schmidt, the gritty forward helped forge the backbone of the organization.

This week’s edition of the Weekly 3 Stars is going to look a little different as we look back at the life of “the ultimate Bruin” as the player, coach/GM and person.

The Player

Schmidt spent his entire 16-year career with the Bruins. Playing in 776 games with the Bruins, Schmidt scored 229 goals, and recorded 346 assists. A four-time All-Star, Hart Trophy winner in 1951 and elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, Schmidt did it all during his Bruins tenure. Oh, and let’s not forget the two Stanley Cups that Schmidt won as a player.

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The Canadian-born Schmidt was a staple of the famous “Kraut Line.” Schmidt shared the line with Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer. The nickname for the trio came about due to their German ancestry. Without the Kraut Line in 1939 and 1941, the Bruins most likely fail to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to Boston in both of those seasons.

The Coach and General Manager

From 1954 through 1966, Schmidt led the Bruins as the team’s head coach. Then from 1967-1975, Schmidt took a role in the front office as the team’s general manager.

As general manager, Schmidt helped architect teams that would once again win the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. In his first year as GM, Schmidt sent Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris to Chicago for Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield, a move that would shape the Bruins for years to come.

The Person

As great as Schmidt was on the ice, behind the bench and in the front office, he was an even better person. Who knows what else the legend would have accomplished in the game he loved so much had he not missed three seasons serving his country in World War II.

“When you think about the Bruins, you think about Milt Schmidt,” forward Patrice Bergeron said in a statement following Schmidt’s death. “He lived an amazing life and I am very proud to have known him.”

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At 98, Schmidt was the oldest living NHL player, and his love for the game never wavered.

“He just loved the Bruins, to this day,” said former Bruins captain and fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk. “He watched the games and we’d bring him to games. He was just a great man.”

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