|Bobby Orr and John Bucyk greet Milt Schmidt as Tim Thomas looks on (photo: Brian Babineau). |
Perhaps inspired by Schmidt's admission that "the spoked-B is practically my family crest" the B's defeated their now bitter rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in the TD Garden last night.
But even before the on-ice ceremonies, the celebration of everything "Schmidt" was well underway in the TD Garden's Sports Museum, where, on the fifth floor, a new exhibit that highlights Milt's career took center stage among a priceless collection of New England sports memorabilia.
"Well, this night means to me about everything," said Schmidt as he looked at his new collection in the Garden.
The 92-year-old former player, captain, coach and general manager of the B's said he was simply honored to be associated "with the game of hockey, the greatest game in the world.
"And I have been privileged to be honored this evening to be part of this game of ours.
"I’m just so happy and I hope that the present Bruins are going to have a little bit of the success that I had," said Scmidt.
Schmidt's success is legendary and has touched all but one of the Bruins five Stanley Cup championships. As a player, Milt was an integral part of the 1939 and '41 Cup-winners, and as a GM, Schmidt added two more titles to his resume in 1970 and '72.
Certainly, Schmidt had more than a casual hand in those victories, but to hear it from the man himself, Schmidt insists that his teammates and players had much more to say about the victories.
"I had the privilege of playing with Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper, Cooney Weiland, Bill Cowley...and I can’t forget one thing, and that is that I played with two of the greatest guys in the world both on and off the ice, namely Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer," said Schmidt. "Without their help...I probably wouldn’t have the things said about me without them.
"They’re not here unfortunately, but they are here in spirit."
Some of the men that Schmidt managed during his career, namely Bobby Orr and John Bucyk (who were joined by Cam Neely, Terry O'Reilly and Ray Bourque) were on hand to watch Schmidt raise his banner to the TD Garden's rafters.
Schmidt was asked about Orr and if his opinion on Boston's number-4 had changed.
"Well, I’ve made a statement several times, and I’ll say it again," began Schmidt. "And that is so far, the good Lord has kept me on the good Earth for 92 years, which I am very pleased about, but I’ve often said this: that as far as Bobby Orr is concerned, if somebody better than he comes along, I hope the good Lord keeps me on this Earth to see him.
"So far, I haven’t met that man. [Orr's] the best ever, and he always will be as long as I’m here on this Earth."
Schmidt also talked about his favorite memories of his time with the B's.
"Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper, the names that I mentioned before, they’re all very good to me, and they all helped me. Particularly Dit Clapper who is a father to Bobby, Woody, and myself," said Schmidt. "He took charge over us, and he handled us with really golden gloves, you might say, and that, to me, was one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me in that National Hockey League. The way I was accepted, and the way I was treated."
That Bruins team became a powerhouse and thoughts of his first Stanley Cup remain omnipresent to Schmidt.
"The first Stanley Cup team, 1938-39, was by far the best thing that ever happened to me because as we all know, there are great hockey players in the National Hockey League today that were never on a Stanley Cup team," said Schmidt. I was on four of them...[but the] ’38-’39 by far, is the best thing that ever happened to me.
"Even better than the MVP in ’51 and the All Star Games and whatever. That Stanley Cup was the best ever."
Clearly, Mr. Schmidt is one of the best ever Bruins. Thank you Milt.