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This Week In Bruins History: Bruins Retire Milt Schmidt's 15

The old Kraut Line Bobby Bauer, Milt Schmidt and Woody Dumart
The old Kraut Line Bobby Bauer, Milt Schmidt and Woody Dumart

On March 13, 1980 the Boston Bruins not only retired Milt Schmidt's number 15, but also Johnny Bucyk's number 9. Schmidt played for the Bruins from 1936-1955. After his long and successful career he turned to coaching and the assist general manager who made one of the greatest hockey trades in NHL history. He was part of one of the most prolific scoring lines ever seen in the sport of hockey when he centered childhood friends Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart to form the infamous Kraut Line. Milt Schmidt was a Hall of Famer, Four time Stanley Cup Champion (two as a player and two as the general manager) and an all around pioneer for the sport of hockey.

Milt Schmidt was a key factor in two of the Bruins first three Stanley Cup's. He lifted the cup as a player in the 1939 and 1941 seasons. He played with some of the toughest guys to have ever played this game in Eddie Shore and Dit Clapper. During the 1939-40 season the Kraut line completed one of the most remarkable feats in NHL history where they were one, two and three in scoring that season. Schmidt with 52 points, and Bauer and Dumart with 43 points each. Schmidt, Bauer and Dumart would all hang the skates up as they would all miss a few season because of WWII to fight when they enlisted in the Canadian military. Goaltender Frank Brimsek would go on and do the same for the United States. where the team lost a lot of its star power during the mid 40's. Schmidt would return to the Bruins after serving his time in the military during the 1945-46 season. He won the Hart Trophy during the 1951 season after his twelfth season of his career. He retired during the 1954-55 season where he felt his body couldn't take it anymore and guys he used to skate past were now stating past him. As quoted by Schmidt to general manager Lynn Patrick about retiring he said "what would your thoughts be if I decided to retire?" Patrick' answered him without second though, "you are now the coach of the Boston Bruins." It began a new era in Schmidt's career.

Schmidt would go on and coach the Bruins until the 1966 season. It was a time in the Bruins long history where they were at the bottom of the standing for almost a decade without making the playoffs once. Once Schmidt became general manager, the Bruins franchise would be resurrected. He found Bobby Orr at the young age of 12 years old dominating players much older then him. The Bruins signed Orr in 1962 where he would play for the Oshawa General until his debut for the Bruins in 1966. Schmidt also made a trade that completely changed the franchise and is considered one of the greatest trades in NHL history. In 1967 he would trade a handful of journeymen to the Blackhawks for Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield. The Bruins would become a force once again winning the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972.

Milt Schmidt still hanging around at 94 years young where he has been a huge influence on the development of the NHL. He was a hard nosed player who was respected his entire career by teammates and opponents. Canadien legend Maurice Richard was quote as saying Milt Schmidt was the greatest center-men he ever played against. There isn't a doubt that he has left his mark for the sport of hockey, Milt Schmidt was truly one of the legends of hockey.

Kraut Line - Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, Bobby Bauer - Boston Garden WWII Send-off - 2/10/42 (via eyewall)