Boston Bruins legend Milt Schmidt, who was the oldest living former NHL player, died on Wednesday. He was 98.
Schmidt, who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, is the only person in franchise history to have served as a player, captain, coach and general manager. He won more Stanley Cup titles with Boston than any other person, capturing two as a player in 1939 and 1941 and two more as the club's general manager in 1970 and 1972.
He was a four-time All-Star, won the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player in 1951 and the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's scoring champion in 1940.
"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," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Milt's respect for the game was matched by his humility and was mirrored by the great respect with which his opponents, and generations of Bruins players, treated him through the years."
Schmidt, who still ranks 12th on the Bruins' all-time scoring list, was the center on the famed "Kraut Line", along with Woody Dumart on the left wing and Bobby Bauer on the right. The trio made NHL history in 1939-40 when it finished the season Nos. 1-2-3 in the league's scoring race -- the only time that three players from one team comprised the top three NHL scorers.
"An ultimate competitor, a mainstay of two Bruins' Stanley Cups as a player and architect of two more as the Bruins' general manager, Milt was a landmark presence in Boston's sports landscape," Bettman said.
After Schmidt retired as a player in December 1954, he immediately stepped onto the bench as a coach for the team's game against Chicago on Dec. 25.
He remained as head coach through the 1960-61 season, then became the club's assistant general manager for two seasons before returning to the bench for four more campaigns in the mid-1960's. Schmidt became the Bruins' fourth general manager at the start of the 1967-68 season, engineering the Phil Esposito-Ken Hodge acquisition that was key to the team's Stanley Cup Championships of 1970 and 1972.
"I got to know Milt when I arrived in Boston, and I quickly learned that he was an outstanding ambassador for the game of hockey, a true gentleman, and that he epitomized what it means to be a Bruin," Cam Neely, current Bruins president said in a statement.