Bruins legend Milt Schmidt passed away Wednesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)
The game lost one of its great ones on Wednesday.
Milt Schmidt, the iconic Bruins legend and a four-time Stanley Cup winner (twice as a player with the Bruins, in 1939 and ’41, and twice as a general manager with the B’s, in 1970 and ’72), passed away at the age of 98. Prior to his death, Schmidt was the oldest living former NHL player, and was one of the last ties to the Old Time Hockey of Eddie Shore and company, a teammate of Schmidt’s for four seasons.
Involved with the Bruins for almost four decades, and again as one of the team’s greatest ambassadors and legend often found around the building, even in his 90s, it’s tough to find a Bruins player that Schmidt did not impact in some way, shape, or form.
“Milt’s impact in Boston, as both a player and a coach, will forever be felt amongst hockey fans,” Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said Wednesday night via a statement. “He was a legendary personality in the Bruins organization and goes down in history as the ultimate Bruin. We should all be envious of the longevity and meaningfulness of his life.”
“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.
“When people today talk about ‘Bruins Hockey’ they talk about the style that Milt created, and generations of Bruins after him tried to emulate,” Bruins team president Cam Neely, familiar with Schmidt from his playing days and managerial days, added. “After his playing and coaching days were over, he remained incredibly giving of his time and the wealth of knowledge that he had accumulated over his career to everyone associated with the Bruins and the game of hockey. He will be dearly missed.
“On behalf of the Bruins organization, I would like to extend our most sincere condolences to Milt’s family and friends.”
Schmidt even familiarized himself with today’s era of Bruins leaders.
“Milt has been one of the most respected and friendly human beings that I have ever met and spent time with. Losing Milt, who spent his life dedicated to the game of hockey, is a great loss for the Boston Bruins organization and the entire hockey community,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “I will always cherish the times we had together listening to him reminisce about old time hockey as well as our conversations on today’s style of the game – the game that he just loved so much. My deepest condolences go out to his entire family and closest friends. Milt will be greatly missed but never forgotten.”
“When you think about the Bruins, you think about Milt Schmidt,” Patrice Bergeron noted. “It has been amazing for me to see the impact that he has had, and continued to have on the organization. The last time I saw him, he was on the ice with Bobby (Orr) earlier this year. He shook my hand and said ‘Go get ‘em.’ He was always rooting for the Bruins and in our corner.
“He lived an amazing life and I am very proud to have known him.”
The man that scouted a then 12-year-old Bobby Orr, and pulled off one of the greatest trades — if not the greatest trade in team history — that brought Ken Hodge, Fred Stanfield and Phil Esposito to the Black and Gold, Schmidt’s impact on the game went beyond just the Bruins, and his passing prompted a statement from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“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 NHL,” 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. 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.”
Schmidt is survived by his son, Conrad, and his daughter, Nancy.