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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Super Series '89 - Dinamo Riga vs. Minnesota North Stars - Mike Modano's Debut

A new era in NHL history began in 1975 when HC CSKA Moscow, more popularly known as Central Red Army and the most dominant club in the history of the Soviet Championship League, and the Soviet Wings each played four exhibition games against NHL clubs in late December through mid January of 1976.

The program cover for the first Super Series in 1976

This series produced the memorable New Year's Eve game between the Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens, called by many the greatest game ever played, as well as the deplorable game when the Philadelphia Flyers tried to intimidate the Soviets into submission, which resulted in a temporary Red Army retreat to their dressing room in protest of the brutality of the Broad Street Bullies.

Pete Mahovlich, Vladislav Tretiak & Yvan Cournoyer - 1975
 Pete Mahovlich, Vladislav Tretiak and Yvan Cournoyer, the three stars of
the game between the Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens

Prior to this point, the Soviet National Team had competed against the Team Canada in the Summit Series in 1972 and again in 1974 versus a team made of WHA All-Stars.

The Super Series was an attempt to cash in on
the excitement of the 1972 Summit Series

Wanting to further capitalize on the success of the Summit Series, and the capital to be gained from the mystery and curiosity surrounding the still exotic Soviets from behind the Iron Curtain, the Super Series '76 was scheduled. What set the Super Series '76 apart from the previous competitions was this was the first time that club teams from the Soviet Union would be facing teams from the NHL.

Carol Vadnais of the New York Rangers keeps an eye on
Valeri Kharlamov of the Central Red Army Club

The series was a success and two years later in 1978 Moscow Spartak arrived in North America for five games followed by the return of the Wings in 1979. The Soviets sent their best in 1980 when Dynamo Moscow and Red Army toured nine NHL cities. After a three year break, the Soviet National Team came to North America in 1983 to take on six NHL club teams. Another three year pause in the Super Series ended when both Red Army and Dynamo Moscow returned to challenge the NHL once more.

After that 1986 edition, another three year gap ensued before Red Army returned for the fourth time, only now joined by series debutante Dinamo Riga from the capital of Latvia.

Dinamo Riga logo

Dinamo Riga was founded in 1946 as one of the original members of the Soviet league and finished fourth that season, the highest finishing club from outside of Moscow. They played their games outdoors until the 1960-61 season. The club started to fall on hard times as their original group of players began to retire in the mid-1950s and eventually fell to the third division.

They began to look beyond their local area for players during the 1960s and eventually returned to the top division. Then came their magical season of 1987-88, when Dinamo finished in second place after losing to the perennial champions CSKA Moscow in the final, as Red Army won their 13th of 14 straight championships thanks to the advantages of being able to draft the finest Soviet players into the Army and assign them to their virtual national all-star team.

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Arturs Irbe helped Dinamo to a second place finish in 1988

Dinamo's Helmut Balderis led the league in goals and points in 1977 on his way to being named the league's MVP and then repeated as scoring champion in 1983.

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Latvian hockey legend Helmut Balderis

As the political landscape of the Soviet Union changed, Balderis was eventually able to play in the NHL for the Minnesota North Stars during the 1989-90 season.

Balderis North Stars
Balderis played 26 NHL games with Minnesota

Other notable members of Dinamo to play in the NHL were Harijs Vitolinsh, Arturs Irbe, Sandis Ozolinsh, Sergei Zholtok, Grigorij Panteleev, Viktor Ignatjev and Aleksandrs Kercs.

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Sergei Zholtok, the first Latvian to captain and NHL team

Among those, Ozolinsh would become the only Dinamo veteran to win the Stanley Cup, which he did in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche during his 15 year NHL career. A defenseman, he leads all Dinamo alumni with 875 games played and 564 points, ahead of Zholtok's 588 games and 258 points.

Ozolinsh Stanley Cup
Sandis Ozolinsh with the Stanley Cup in 996

Goaltender Irbe, just 21 years old at the time of the game in Minnesota, would eventually play in 568 NHL games, winning 218 with 33 shutouts and backstopped the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002.

Both Balderis and Irbe, World Champion in 1989 and 1990, would eventually be named to the IIHF Hall of Fame.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, which affected the funding of many formerly state sponsored clubs, Dinamo Riga would undergo a couple of name changes until ceasing operations after the 1994-95 season. A new organization would be formed in 2008 and revive the Dinamo Riga name, and currently plays in the KHL.

Dinamo's first game of the Super Series '89 was on December 27, 1988 against the Calgary Flames, a game that ended in a 2-2 tie. The next night the team traveled up Alberta Highway 2 to take on the Edmonton Oilers, who defeated their Soviet visitors 2-1. Remaining in Canada, two days later on December 30th, Riga was throttled by the Vancouver Canucks 6-1.

Dinamo now crossed the border for their New Year's Eve game against Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. Thanks to a 3 goal second period, Riga was able to hold off a third period comeback attempt by the Kings to win 5-3.

Things did not go as well on January 4th in Chicago when the Blackhawks scored 2 first period goals, and after allowing Dinamo 1 second period goal, pulled away with 2 more in the third to win 4-1. This was followed by a forgettable performance the next night when the St. Louis Blues shutout the Soviets 5-0 thanks to goals by five different Blues, led by Tony Hrkac's three point night.

After a two day break, Dinamo remained in the Midwest to face the Minnesota North Stars at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota in front of 5,106 fans who battled a heavy snow to make it to the game.

North Stars vs Riga cover
North Stars vs Riga Lineups
Images courtesy of Vintage Minnesota Hockey

Minnesota had previously lost to the Wings 8-5 back in 1979 and 6-3 to the Soviet National Team in 1983. Red Army beat the North Stars 4-3 in 1986 prior to Riga arriving in 1989.

This was to be the seventh and final game for Riga on their tour and they arrived with 3 wins, 2 losses and their opening game tie against Calgary 12 days earlier. Starting in goal for Dinamo was Riga native and future NHLer Irbe, while Finland's Jarmo Myllys got the call for the North Stars.

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Arturs Irbe got the start in goal for Dinamo

As was often the case with touring Soviet teams, Dynamo Moscow teammates and future NHLers Anatoli Semenov and Andrei Lomakin were loaned to Dinamo for their North American tour by their normal club team to boost the competitiveness of the Soviet sides and reward standout players with a trip to North America, where they were given the chance to indulge themselves with things such as consuming large amounts of fresh orange juice and taking the opportunity to purchase popular North American goods, such as Levi's jeans.

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Future NHLer Andrei Lomakin

One addition to the Minnesota lineup of note was young Mike Modano, who was called up to make his North Stars debut while he was still playing junior hockey for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. Modano had been selected first overall by Minnesota at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Thanks to the presence of #9 Dennis Maruk on the North Stars roster, Modano was given the #39 for the game.

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North Stars General Manager Jack Ferrara introduces Modano
to the press after he is called up to make his North Stars debut

There was only one goal scored in a contentious first period, as both goaltenders swapped difficult saves including an Irbe save on a point blank slapshot by Dino Ciccarelli followed by a shorthanded Myllys save on Alexander Smirnov seconds later.

Finally, Igor Akulinin received one the patented Soviet drop passes from Alexander Kerch just inside the Minnesota blueline, circled the net with Dennis Maruk all over his back and swept a backhander past Myllys for a 1-0 Riga lead with  a second assist to Alexander Belyavsky with just over a minute to play in the first period.

One humorous occurrence happened in the first period, when with 7:04 remaining, Stewart Gavin attempted a check in the Riga end and fell into the back of the net, knocking it over forwards. The risk to Irbe was the goal falling forward and hitting him in the back of the head or neck, but the diminutive Irbe, listed at 5' 7" and already in his crouch, saw the net fall forwards right over the top of him with room to spare! Minnesota outshot the Soviets 11-10 for the period, many of them difficult saves for the netminders. The closeness of the shots on goal was a surprise considering the nearly endless trek to the penalty box for the North Stars, but speaks to the typical Soviet style of less, but high percentage, shots on goal.

Semenov Dynamo Riga
Anatoli Semenov would go on to play in the NHL

In the second period, Irbe continued to impress, denying Dave Archibald on another point blank blast after a terrific pass from Dave Gagner after he eluded three Dinamo players.

Dinamo went up 2-0 after Sergei Skosyrev broke into the North Stars zone on a 2-on-1 and elected to shoot rather than pass and beat Myllys on the short, glove side at 14:23. Alexei Frolikov was given the only assist on the goal which began when an errant Modano pass ended up on his stick.

Sergei Skosyrev Dennis Maruk
Skosyrev on his way to scoring the second Dinamo goal with Maruk in pursuit

Minnesota's best chance during the second period came on the power play with Lomakin in the penalty box for hauling down Ganger in the slot. After a blast from the point, Gagner got off a close angle shot which was stopped by Irbe, but the rebound when right back to Gagner, who fired again. Irbe caught a piece of it, but it trickled through him and toward the goal, but Vladimir Shashkov cleared the puck off the line to keep the North Stars off the board.

Shots on goal in the second period also favored Minnesota, this time 13-8, with both goalies again tested several times and each with some outstanding saves to their credit.

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More than the arrival of the Soviet team, the talk in
Minnesota was all about the arrival of Modano

The North Stars would finally solve Irbe on a power play in the third period when Neal Broten fed a pass to Brian MacLellan in the right corner, who immediately sent the puck across the slot to Maruk, who fired the puck into the goal before Irbe could get across to cover the short side in time on as nice a tic-tac-toe passing play as you'll see with a little over nine minutes to play.

As much as Minnesota pressured the net, Irbe was up to the task for the remainder of the game as Riga held on for a 2-1 win to end their tour of North America at 4 wins, 2 losses and a tie.

Of note, the O-Pee-Chee hockey cards created of Dinamo Riga were all photographed at the Met Center that night, which can be readily identified by its trademark random green, gold, black and white seats.

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The unmistakable seats of the Met Center

Irbe's effort that night apparently attracted the attention of the North Stars staff  because five months later he was selected 189th overall in the tenth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Minnesota in a draft coincidentally held at the very same Met Center.

Irbe would return to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area 23 months later on December 15, 1990 as Dinamo returned to the United States, only this time to take on several teams of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. On that night, Irbe was in goal for a 4-4 tie against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers at the original Mariucci Arena.

Irbe would never play for the North Stars in Minnesota however, as his rights were transferred to the expansion San Jose Sharks in a complicated deal that saw the North Stars owners George and Gordon Gund be awarded the San Jose franchise while new ownership took over the North Stars.

Irbe Sharks rookie
Irbe during his NHL rookie season with San Jose

That ownership would eventually move the North Stars to Texas in 1993, where they became the Dallas Stars, who would sign Irbe for the 1996-97 season, which allowed him to finally play for the franchise which had originally drafted him back in 1989.

Irbe Stars
Irbe spent one season with the Stars,
the franchise that originally drafted him back in 1989

Modano was sent back to Prince Albert before playing in a regular season game for Minnesota, but was recalled at the end of the season for two of the North Stars playoff games that spring. He became a full time NHLer the next season, playing in 80 games as a rookie, scoring 29 goals and 75 points. He would lead the North Stars in scoring by his third season and go on to have the most career points by an American born player in NHL history.

Modano would play 20 seasons with the North Stars/Stars franchise followed by a final NHL season with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. He would win a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, play in seven NHL All-Star Games, and set records for most goals, points and playoff points by an American born player. He would represent the United States in two World Juniors, three World Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup, two World Cups, winning the championship in 1996, and three Olympics, earning a silver medal in 2002.

His final career totals are 561 goals and 813 assists for 1,374 points. His number 9 was retired by the Dallas Stars in 2014, the same year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after a career which began with an exhibition game on this date in 1989 against Dinamo Riga of the Soviet Union.

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Modano during his Minnesota debut closing in on Irbe

Today's first featured jersey is a 1988-89 Minnesota North Stars Mike Modano jersey. This jersey was given to Modano for the exhibition game against Dinamo Riga when he was first called up by Minnesota from the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. He was given #39 because the number 9 was already in use by the veteran Maruk.

After Modano was sent back to his junior club for the remainder of the regular season, the jersey was recycled. A new name plate was added for Neil Wilkinson, who wore the jersey the following 1989-90 season, as Modano was able to wear his preferred #9 that season.

Minnesota North Stars 1988-89 F jersey
Minnesota North Stars 1988-89 B jersey

Today's second featured jersey is a 1988-89 Dinamo Riga Arturs Irbe jersey. In addition to the financial incentive for Soviet teams to play in the United States and Canada, teams were also frequently outfitted with state of the art CCM jerseys, pants and gloves to use during their trip through the NHL.

These were greatly appreciated with the teams and brought back to the Soviet Union for continued use once Cyrillic names were screened on the back for the home market, as the top best jerseys supplied to the teams of the Soviet Championship League were lightweight mesh jerseys with screen printing and often worn until faded, ripped and smelling absolutely horrid.

Latvia Dynamo RIga 1988-89 F
Latvia Dynamo RIga 1988-89 B

In today's video section, footage of Modano being drafted first overall by the North Stars in 1988, where he is presented with a green #9 North Stars jersey by Lou Nanne.

Next, a real treat for those of you with the time, the entire game between Dinamo Riga and the North Stars, minus the commercials and intermissions!

Friday, January 6, 2017

1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Ken Linseman Jersey

After the Philadelphia Flyers opened the 1979-80 season with a 5-2 win at home against the New York Islanders, they traveled to Georgia to face the Atlanta Flames at The Omni, where the Flames lit up the Flyers with seven consecutive goals en route to a 9-2 win on October 13th.

Back in Philadelphia the very next day, the Flyers scored three times in the first 16 minutes on their way to a 4-3 win. They next got a measure of revenge on the Flames with a 6-2 win, followed by a 7-3 victory in Detroit over the Red Wings on October 20th.

Back in Philadelphia to face Montreal the next night, the Flyers let one get away when they had leads of 4-0 and 6-2 with under 28 minutes to play, but the Canadiens struck back for 2 goals in the second and 2 more in the third to gain a tie.

Highly motivated by letting a win against Montreal get away from them, the Flyers went on a tear, beating the New York Rangers 5-2 before closing out October by beating Detroit 5-4 with Reggie Leach scoring with just one minute to play.

Leach Flyers photo ReggieLeachFlyers.jpg
Reggie Leach

November began with a 4-1 win at home over the St. Louis Blues, a satisfying 5-3 win in Montreal, a 3-1 defeat of the Buffalo Sabres followed by a 4-3 decision over the Quebec Nordiques during their first season in the NH after the demise of the World Hockey Association.  Before they returned home, the New York Islanders would fall 5-2. Back home at The Spectrum on November 11th, they would defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 before running their winning streak to nine with a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, who were also new to the NHL.

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One of the Flyers goaltenders in 1979-80, Pete Peeters

The winning streak came to an end in St. Louis on November 17th. The Blues scored two power play goals in the first period, and after a scoreless second, the Flyers got three goals in less than 8 minutes to take a 3-2 lead, only to have St. Louis tie the game with 2:32 remaining for a 3-3 final, but by this time the hockey world had begun to take notice of what was happening and the pressure and attention began to mount.

A three game western road trip saw the Kings fall 6-4 prior to a 5-2 defeat of Vancouver. Edmonton managed to come from two goals down earn a tie before the team flew home for a 6-2 win over the Hartford Whalers followed by a 6-4 win over the Minnesota North Stars.

Phil Myre Flyers photo PhilMyre.jpg
Phil Myre shared the net with Peeters

The undefeated streak hit 20 as the Flyers traveled to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 1st. Philadelphia led 3-2 after one and the teams traded goals in the second, but Toronto got the equalizer at the halfway point of the third for an eventual 3-3 tie despite outshooting Philadelphia 40-25.

The Flyers then began a six game home stand on December 2nd with ties against the Red Wings (4-4) and the Boston Bruins (2-2). This was followed by a 9-4 drubbing of Los Angeles and another tie, this one coming against the Chicago Black Hawks, who got the equalizer with under a minute to play.

Their undefeated run now reached two months when they again beat the Nordiques 6-4 after a wild eight goal third period. Philadelphia closed out their run at The Spectrum with a 3-2 victory over the Sabres.

The Flyers and Rangers traded first period goals in a 1-1 tie at Madison Square Garden before the Penguins came to Philadelphia for a suspenseful 1-1 tie, with the Flyers not responding to Pittsburgh's first period goal until there were less than five minutes remaining in the game.

Bridgman Flyers photo BridgmanFlyers.jpg
Mel Bridgman captained the Flyers during the 1979-80 season

December 22nd saw Philadelphia back in the win column 5-2 over the Bruins to surpass the Canadiens previous record unbeaten streak of 28 games. This was followed by their undefeated streak reaching 30 games with a 4-2 win over the Whalers the next night back in front of the home fans, who roared their approval with the milestone win.

Following a couple of days off for Christmas, the head coach Pat Quinn took  the Flyers on the road for the next six games with the pressure and attention due to their streak increasing daily. A return match with Hartford resulted in a 4-4 tie before a trip to another former WHA city for a game against the Winnipeg Jets which saw Philadelphia victorious by a score of 5-3. The team was in Denver the very next day for a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies to close out 1979 with a 24-1-10 record.

Pat Quinn Flyers photo PatQuinnFlyerscoach.jpg
Flyers head coach Pat Quinn

The team had five days off before their next game back east in New York vs. the Rangers on January 4 to break up the road games, and they came out energized with a 5-3 win, which now set the record for longest undefeated streak by a pro sports team, surpassing the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers 33 game streak.

Then, on this date in 1980, The Flyers traveled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres for the third time. The teams swapped goals in both the first and second periods, but then Philadelphia pulled away in the third with Bill Barber's 20th goal of the season with Rick MacLeish's 22nd coming as insurance with 5:13 to play to extend their unbeaten streak to 35 games.

The record setting streak would end the next night in Minnesota, the longest unbeaten streak in North American sports history, which spanned from October 14, 1979 to January 6, 1980. During that run, the team won 25 games with 10 ties. Of those draws, there were no last second heroics needed to salvage the streak along the way and the Flyers had the last goal in only two of them, as they were most often playing with a lead. Additionally, the Flyers did not shut out any opponents during the streak.

During the streak they played every team in the league, save the Washington Capitals.

For the rest of the season, Philadelphia would go 22-11-10 and wrap up the Patrick Division title with 14 games to play.

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The 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Ken Linseman jersey as worn the season the Flyers went on their 35 game unbeaten rampage through the NHL. The Flyers inaugural 1967-68 jerseys only had one color numbers and very small sleeve numbers. The back numbers were given black outlines in 1970. Names arrived on the home jerseys in 1972 and on the roads in 1977.

For 1978-79, the profile of the coloring that ran down the length of the arms was widened so the sleeve numbers now fit entirely within the arm striping, where previously it overlapped into the main body color areas.

Linseman led the Flyers in scoring during their record setting season of 1979-80 with 22 goals and 79 points, trailed closely by Leach with 76 and Brian Propp at 75. Linseman originally wore #26 with the Flyers before changing to #14. He would play four seasons for the Flyers before two with Edmonton and six with the Bruins before returning to Philadelphia in 1989-90 when he wore #18, his third number as a Flyer.

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Today's video section is a look at the Flyer's 35 game unbeaten streak.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

1950-51 Boston Bruins Milt Schmidt Jersey

Yesterday, the world of hockey lost a legend when the ever popular Milt Schmidt passed away at the age of 98.

During the 1934-35 season, Schmidt scored 20 goals and 26 points in 17 games for his hometown junior team the Kitchener Greenshirts. Following the season, Schmidt and his childhood friends and Greenshirts linemates Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart were all signed by the Boston Bruins.

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Milt Schmidt

Schmidt remained with Kitchener for the 1935-36 season, while Dumart and Bauer spent the year with the Boston Cubs in the Can-Am league. While Bauer outscored Dumart with 15 goals and 28 points to Dumart's 11 and 21, it was Dumart who made his NHL debut first, playing in one game for the Bruins that season.

For the 1936-37 season, the trio was reunited with the Providence Reds of the International-American Hockey League. It was in Providence that they became known as "The Kraut Line" due to their shared German heritage thanks to the Reds head coach Albert Leduc.

After 23 games, Schmidt was called up by the Bruins for 26 games, which saw him score his first 2 NHL goals on his way to 10 total points. Dumart joined him after 34 games, seeing action in 17 games. Bauer also made his NHL debut that season when he was called up for the final regular season game for the Bruins. Giving a clue as to what was to come, the three childhood friends teamed up to score their first goal as a line just minutes into their first NHL game together.

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Schmidt with the Providence Reds in 1936-37

By 1937-38, all three were now full time members of the Bruins, with right wing Bauer leading the way with 20 goals and 34 points. Left winger Dumart and center Schmidt each had an identical 13 goals and 27 points. At 6' 1" Dumart was the checker and defensive component of the line, while Schmidt was the leading scorer of the group.

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The Kraut Line of Schmidt #15, Dumart #14 and Bauer #17
meet with Bruins head coach Art Ross

Schmidt would have 15 goals and 32 points in 1938-39, good for third on the team. The Bruins finished first in the NHL that season with a 36-10-2 record and then went on to win one of the most dramatic playoff series in NHL history.

After winning the first three games against the New York Rangers, the first of which was a 2-1 triple overtime thriller on the road in New York. Game 2 in Boston also required overtime before the Bruins prevailed. The Rangers then came back to win Game 4 at home 2-1 and Game 5 in Boston 2-1 in yet other overtime game. The Rangers then became the first team in league history to force a Game 7 after losing the first three of the series with a 3-1 win at home. The Bruins finally prevailed in triple overtime in Game 7 by yet another 2-1 game, the fourth 2-1 game of the hard fought series. Of note, Mel Hill had all three overtime winners for the Bruins.

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Schmidt playing his all-out style

In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins, behind the goaltending of Frank Brimsek, held the Toronto Maple Leafs to 6 goals in the five game series, won by the Bruins 4 games to 1 to make the childhood friends Schmidt, Dumart and Bauer Stanley Cup champions.

1938-39 Boston Bruins team, 1938-39 Boston Bruins team
The 1939 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins

Schmidt would lead not only the Bruins in scoring for the first time in 1939-40, but the entire NHL as well with 22 goals and 52 points in a then 48 game schedule to earn Schmidt the Art Ross Trophy. His 52 points were followed by linemate Dumart and Bauer, each tied with 43 points, as the Kraut Line would finish 1-2-3 in league scoring. If that weren't enough, teammate Bill Cowley was fourth with 40 points as Bruins took the top four spots.

The Bruins again finished first in the league in 1940-41 and again had to survive a seven game Semifinal series against the Maple Leafs, a back and forth series that required the Bruins to win the final two games to advance before a four game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings to claim their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

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The Stanley Cup champion 1940-41 Boston Bruins

After 36 games of the 1941-42 season, Schmidt, Dumart and Bauer and  all enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force due to World War II. After their final game before leaving, they were honored by being carried off the Boston Garden ice by the Montreal Canadiens players.

Schmidt always maintained that night was his biggest thrill in hockey. "That was the last game Bobby Bauer, Pork Dumart and I played before going into the service," Schmidt recalled. "It was against the Canadiens, and we beat them badly. I don't think I'll ever forget what happened after the game. The players on both teams lifted the three of us on their shoulders and carried us off the ice and the crowd gave us an ovation. A man couldn't ever forget a thing like that."

While in the military, the line joined the Ottawa RCAF Flyers team in time for the team's playoffs. After winning the Ottawa City Hockey League, they advanced to the national Finals, where they defeated the Port Arthur Bearcats 3 games to 2 to win the Allan Cup as senior champions of Canada. During the Allan Cup playoffs, Dumart had 6 goals and 23 points in 13 games.

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The 1942 Allan Cup champion RCAF Flyers

Schmidt then spent the next three years away from the game after being shipped overseas for the duration of his time in the military.

After four seasons away from the NHL, Schmidt returned to the Bruins for the 1945-46 season along with Dumart and Bauer. Schmidt picked up right where he left off by scoring 13 goals and 31 points, coming within 4 points of his last season with Boston prior to leaving for the service. The Bruins would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals during the Kraut Line's return season before falling in five games to the Canadiens.

In 1946-47, Schmidt would then set career highs with 27 goals and 62 points to lead the Bruins in scoring for the second time. Following the season, Bauer, despite having just completed a career year of his own with 30 goals and 54 points in 58 games, would announce his retirement from the NHL to manage his father-in-law's skate business, bringing to an end the era of the Kraut Line after seven seasons together with Dumart and Schmidt.

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Bauer and Schmidt leap over Dumart, showing the playful spirit
of the line that made them so popular with the Bruins fans

Injuries due to his all out playing style would begin to catch up to Schmidt, and he was limited to just 33 games of the 1947-48 season. It was more of the same in 1948-49 when he was on the ice for just 44 of Boston's 60 games.

Schmidt would put his injury woes behind him for the next five seasons, playing in a minimum of 62 games, highlighted by a 22 goal, 61 point season in 1950-51, the second highest point total of his career and third time he would lead the Bruins in scoring.

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Schmidt spent his entire career with the Bruins

Schmidt named the Bruins team captain for the 1951-52 season and again led Boston in scoring after another 20 goal season with 21 as well as 29 assists for 50 points, his fourth and final season of 50 points or more. His efforts would be recognized when he was named the winner of the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.

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Schmidt became the Bruins captain in 1951

While his point total would drop to 34 in 1952-53, the Bruins would return to the Stanley Cup Finals. Despite Boston finishing third in the regular season, they upset the first place Red Wings to advance to face Montreal, before falling in five games.

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Schmidt and Dumart were teammates for 15 NHL seasons

In 1953-54, Schmidt would score 14 goals and 32 points, his 13th season of ten or more goals and 12th of 30 points or more out of 16 seasons. His final season as a player came in 1954-55, when he retired after 23 games to become the Bruins head coach.
He would coach the Bruins for 11 seasons from 1954-55 to 1965-66, save for the 1961-62 season. He would lead the team to the finals in 1957 and 1958. He was promoted to being the team's General Manager in 1967, just as the league was expanding from 6 to 12 teams.

As the General Manager, Schmidt oversaw two Stanley Cup championships in 1970 and 1972 and was the architect of the famous trade that brought Boston Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield.

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A 1954 Schmidt hockey card

His final NHL totals were 776 games, 229 goals and 346 assists for 575 points, numbers which would have been higher had he not had to miss three full seasons while away in the military. At the time of his retirement, Schmidt was fourth in NHL history in points and third in assists.

Schmidt would play in the first two NHL All-Star Games in 1947 and 1948 and again in 1951 and 1952. He would win the Art Ross Trophy as the league scoring champions and Hart Trophy as league MVP and a pair of Stanley Cups.

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Schmidt coached the Bruins from 1954 to 1967

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961 and the Bruins would retire his #15 in 1980.

Schmidt's #15 is raised to the rafters in Boston

Today's featured jersey is a 1950-51 Boston Bruins Milt Schmidt jersey the style worn by Schmidt when he won the Hart Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in 1951.

A very similar jersey was introduced by the Bruins for their for their 25th Anniversary in 1948-49, only with black shoulders and a single white stripe trimmed in gold around the arms and waist.

For the 1949-50 season, the jersey was reworked so that it now had gold shoulders and a single yellow stripe trimmed in white on the arms with two white trimmed gold stripes around the waist. One of the most attractive, yet least known NHL jerseys, this style would be worn by the Bruins for six seasons through the end of Schmidt's playing career.

Boston Bruins 1950-51 F jersey

Boston Bruins 1950-51 B jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1940-41 Boston Bruins Milt Schmidt jersey worn by Schmidt when he won and the Bruins won his second Stanley Cup in 1941.

After this striping pattern first arrived in 1939-40 with black numbers for one season, the team swapped the colors of the numbers and logos for the 1940-41 season. This style remained in use through the 1947-48 season until the Bruins introduced their now famous Spoked B logo for their 25th Anniversary in 1948-49.

Boston Bruins 1940-48 F jersey
Boston Bruins 1940-48 B jersey

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1948-49 Boston Bruins Milt Schmidt jersey. This style was worn by Boston for their 25th Anniversary season and was the first appearance of their now iconic Spoked B logo. Flaking the letter B are the numbers 24 and 49, representing the year of their formation and their anniversary season.

This style was worn for only one season. While the striping remained the same, a block letter B replaced the one used in 1948-49. That logo would remain unchanged all the way through the 1995-96 season when black outlines would be added to the gold spokes. That version would remain unchanged for another decade until serifs were added to the B for the 2007-08 season and remains in use today, 68 years after the first Spoked B.

Bruins Bruins 1948-49 F jersey
Bruins Bruins 1948-49 B jersey

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1954-55 Boston Bruins Milt Schmidt jersey from his final season of play before he became the Bruins head coach.

After the crest of the Bruins 25th anniversary jersey was changed to a block letter B for 1949-50, the sleeve striping was changed for the 1951-52 season and was worn through the 1957-58 season. The following season the top four sleeve stripes narrowed considerably and that evolution of this jersey lasted through Bobby Orr's rookie season of 1966-67.

Boston Bruins 1954-55 jersey

Bonus cardigan: Today's bonus cardigan is a 1950s Boston Bruins Milt Schmidt cardigan sweater worn while he coached the Bruins following his retirement as a player in 1954.

Boston Bruins cardigan 

Today's video section is the always excellent Legends of Hockey biography of the great Milt Schmidt.

Our final video is Milt Schmidt Night in Boston on October 28, 2010 in recognition of his 75th anniversary of joining the Bruins organization.

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Schmidt Cups

 Milt Schmidt 1918-2017

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