Boston, MA --
As far as historical perspective on the Boston Bruins goes, 91-year old Milt Schmidt, the only man to serve as the captain, coach and general manager of the Black & Gold, might have the best scope of anyone alive.
But if you had asked Schmidt, with all his years of observation of the game and the Hub of Hockey, whether the Bruins (or anyone) would be playing hockey or skating on a rink at Fenway Park he might have thought you had taken too much vulcanized rubber off your forehead.
"No I never ever did think of that," said Schmidt. "To see an ice rink there instead of a baseball diamond, it’s going to be quite a scene."
As he prepared to see the ice rink at Fenway for the first time earlier this month, Schmidt reflected on the historical significance of this coming weekend's events and said that the spectacle of the Winter Classic belongs high on the list of must sees.
"Every morning I count my blessings now. I’m 91 years of age so time’s catching up to me, but I’m very pleased that I’m able to participate in this event today, to see a lot of the fellas that I haven’t seen for a few years and plus the fact that I’m going to Fenway Park to see that great event that’s coming up January the 1st, and January the 2nd by the way, the [Legends Classic]," said Schmidt."
Not surprisingly, the fact that he, a member of Boston's famous Kraut Line of Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart, might be enhancing the Winter Classic just by being there remained lost on the Bruins legend.
|Schmidt and his Kraut Line. |
"To be still recognized and invited to these different places is an honor and a privilege," said Schmidt, who said he wished he could lace them up and join the Black & Gold.
"I was fortunate in all those capacities [as captain, coach and GM], but I wish I were still playing, to be very honest with you," he said. "That was the best part of my whole career.
"You [make] a lot of memories over the years and I’m very pleased about the situation, plus the fact I’m pleased with the way that the city of Boston accepted me."
Schmidt enjoys the distinction of seeing fellow Bruins great Bobby Orr play most of his NHL career, and Milt was thrilled to be able to share the same bench as Bobby Orr during the First Skate at Fenway.
"There’s only one Bobby Orr," said Mr. Schmidt. "In all my...career, he was the greatest player that I ever had the opportunity to see.
"I never played against him, thank goodness, but I did see him play. I played against a lot of great ones, but nobody as great as he."
Schmidt explained that the Winter Classic will send him, and New England, down memory lane while thinking about their childhoods and all the great Bruins teams since 1924.
"It certainly will bring back a lot of memories, let me say that," said Schmidt, who reiterated that he would like to actually be playing. "However, when I stop to think about it, I’ve had my fun, so now it’s somebody else’s turn. But it will bring back a lot of old memories. Memories that I’ll take to my grave.
"I’ve been a very, very fortunate man," added Schmidt. "I think of Lou Gehrig once and a while, that great speech that he made, he was on death’s bed when he said that he was one of the luckiest people in the world.
"Move over, Lou. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest as well."