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DUFFER: 'CAUSE WHEN YOU'RE 15

by Brian Duff / Buffalo Sabres
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The only No. 15 to be retired by an NHL club hangs in the professional arena closest to Jack Eichel’s hometown of North Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

From 1936-1955, Milt Schmidt carved out an award winning career for the Boston Bruins. A four-time All-star and the centerman of the famous Kraut line (with Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer), Schmidt won a Hart Trophy (1951), an Art Ross Trophy (1940) and the Stanley Cup twice (1939, 1941). All of this despite putting his NHL career on hold for three-and-a-half years to join the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Schmidt was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961 and by my research, is one of only nine players to have worn 15 at some point during a Hall of Fame career. Schmidt also appears to be the only player of that group to have worn 15 exclusively for his entire career.

His Hall of Fame induction happened 35 years before Eichel was born.

Eichel, though, would undoubtedly be able to tell you something about a player like Schmidt. He not only loves playing the game, but loves its history as well, especially that of the team he grew up cheering for – the Montreal Canadiens.

Ironically, the team that leads the league in honored/retired numbers (15 of them) never raised a 15 to the rafters. Bert Olmstead (HHOF 1985) would have been the most likely to receive that honor, as eight of his 14 NHL seasons were spent in the bleu, blanc et rouge.

The red, white and blue of Team USA is for whom Eichel most recently wore No. 15. That was at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Sweden.

Nineteen players donned “15” in the2014-15 NHL season.

Names like Henrik Samuelsson, Ladislav Smid, Andrej Nestrasil, Artem Anisimov, and Riley Sheahan. Tyler Pitlick, Andy Andreoff, P-A Parenteau, Craig Smith and Tuomo Ruutu. Cal Clutterbuck, Tanner Glass, Zack Smith, and Michael Del Zotto. And of course Mike Angelidis, Joakim Lindstrom, Brad Richardson, and Matt Halischuk.

Sorry, forgot one.

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anahiem Ducks, drafted in the first round in 2003… by Tim Murray.


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