By Berry Vrbanovic
(KITCHENER, ON) – I was saddened to learn of the passing of Kitchener native Milt Schmidt, at the age of 98. A long-time member of the Boston Bruins and inducted into the NHL’s Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, Milt was probably best known as being part of the renowned Kraut Line.
The Kraut Line was a trio of Boston Bruins hockey players who played on the same forward line: center Milt Schmidt, left wing Woody Dumart, and right winger Bobby Bauer. The name was devised by Albert Leduc, a player from the Montreal Canadiens, and references the German descent of all three players, all of whom grew up in Kitchener.
The three were famously attached and lived together in a single room in Brookline, MA. This line was so accomplished that, in the 1939–1940 season, the trio was 1–2–3 in scoring. While the line was intact, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup championship in the 1938–1939 and 1940–1941 seasons.
In the midst of World War II, the line enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a trio from 1942 to 1946. On February 11, 1942, their last game before reporting for duty, the line accounted for half of the 22 points the Bruins accumulated on the way to an 8–1 victory over Montreal.
During the war, contests were held to change the name of the line in favour of a non-Germanic name, with The Kitchener Kids one of the favorites. But, at the war’s end, the name returned.
Bauer’s retirement in 1947 ended the line.
The Kraut Line was permanently recognized at The Aud in Kitchener by the Kitchener Sports Association. KSA’s Kraut Line Memorial was officially unveiled at a ceremony on October 14, 2003, with Schmidt in attendance.
On behalf of city council and the citizens of Kitchener, my deepest condolences go to the family, friends, and fans of Milt Schmidt and the Boston Bruins organization.
In memory of Milt Schmidt, flags at Kitchener City Hall and the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex were lowered on the day of his funeral.
Berry Vrbanovic is the mayor of Kitchener.