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Schmidt Reminisces

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON - B's legend Milt Schmidt talks fondly about his years as a B's coach and GM, but admits that it wasn't always so easy.

"For the first three years that I coached, we went to the Stanley Cup finals twice, and I thought 'Oh, what an easy job this is.' But I found out in a hurry that it was the worst job in hockey. Or, let me say this, I admire anybody that’s coaching today," said Schmidt. "You have to have a lot of patience.

"You have to have togetherness and talk to your players as though that they’re your own son, get them to the side every once in a while and say this or that, so I admire them.

"But I enjoyed it. I really did...and hey, I tried. And I can always go back home and go to sleep. I tried. Sometimes, it wasn’t good. Sometimes, it was better than good. You win some, and you lose some," he said.

As general manager, Schmidt was part of two Stanley Cup champions and thanks in part to Schmidt, both the 1970 and '72 Cup runs were fueled by a young man from Parry Sound, Ontario.

"Well, first of all, let me say that I was one of five that discovered [Bobby Orr] in Gananoque, Ontario," began Schmidt.

I can honestly say that he (Bobby Orr) was the greatest hockey player that I ever saw. I never played against him, mind you, and I'm glad I didn't. - Milt Schmidt
"We had a farm team in Kingston at that particular time. So this night, there was a playoff game up in Ganonoque and we had two players playing in there, a kid by the name of Eaton, and another one was by the name of Higgins.

"By the time the second period was over, we forgot all about Eaton and Higgins. We wanted that twelve-year-old kid on defense who was playing for Parry Sound," said Schmidt.

Milt talked about the star-alignment that occured to let the B's sign Orr.

"You know, we still can’t get over how we ever got him due to the fact that Bucko McDonald, who coached the Parry Sound team, was scouting for Detroit, and all they had to do was put him on their roster," said Schmidt.

"But anyways, I was one of the five that discovered him, and he was fantastic then, a crew cut kid with his pants down to his knees," continued Milt. "Moving the puck out of his own zone against fourteen-, fifteen-year-olds, he was tremendous. He could move it that day until the day that he retired."

Schmidt has seen many, many fine players come through the NHL, but Milt says that there is no question who was tops.

"I can honestly say that he was the greatest hockey player that I ever saw," said Schmidt. "I never played against him, mind you, and I’m glad I didn’t.

"To see somebody play as well as he did, I never, ever saw anybody near as good as he. Oh, there are players like Doug Harvey from Montreal who’s a great man moving the puck out of his own zone, but couldn’t carry it like Bobby, not near, [and] couldn’t skate like Bobby.

"And Bobby used to get so much criticism, because he would carry the puck so much, about getting caught in the offensive zone, at least everybody thought he was. But he was always back there, when the puck went around the goaltender. He was always back there," he said.

As much as Schmidt admired Bobby Orr the player, he admires Bobby Orr the person even more.

"Bobby is a great man, and again, I want to emphasize the fact that Bobby was equally as good off the ice," said Schmidt. "He used to go to visit sick children hospitals. He never got any notice about it whatsoever.

"If there was anything in the paper, he wouldn’t go. He just wanted to be left alone. Because we was very highly thought of, and everybody was after him for autographs, but he just wanted to visit the children, and that’s what he wanted to do.

"But he was a great man for the team and also off the ice," he said.

It was pointed out that Mr. Milt Schmidt is a pretty great man, too.

Schmidt just smiled and said, "Putting me in the same category as Mr. Orr, I feel that is an honor."
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