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Milt Schmidt (1918-2017)

(AP) – Milt Schmidt, the Hockey Hall of Famer who had been the last surviving player from the American Hockey League’s inaugural season 80 years ago, has died, Boston Bruins spokesman Matt Chmura said Wednesday.

He was 98.

Schmidt led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup championships as the center of the “Kraut Line,” served Canada in World War II and returned to the NHL to win its MVP award and two more titles as the Bruins general manager.

Schmidt got his start in pro hockey with the Providence Reds of the International-American Hockey League in 1936-37, the first season for the league which has been known as the AHL since 1940. Schmidt recorded eight goals and one assist in 23 games with the Reds.

Schmidt is the only Bruin in franchise history to serve as on-ice captain, coach and general manager. His Boston teams won the Stanley Cup in 1939 and in ’41, and when he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force two months after the Pearl Harbor attack along with linemates Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, they were carried off the ice on the shoulders of the archrival Montreal Canadiens.

A native of Kitchener, Ontario, who was born on March 5, 1918, Milton Conrad Schmidt played with Bauer and Dumart in the junior leagues before they were reunited as the “Kraut Line” in the NHL.

Schmidt missed three full seasons during the war, but returned to score career highs of 27 goals and 62 points in the 1946-47 season. He won the 1951 Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player after totaling 61 points in 62 games.

Schmidt played four more seasons before retiring at the age of 36 with 229 goals, 346 assists and 466 penalty minutes to his credit. He also scored 25 goals and assisted 48 more in 86 playoff games.

Taking over as coach in 1955, Schmidt’s teams reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1957 and ’58. But he had left the bench and taken over as general manager when the young phenom Bobby Orr made his debut in 1966.

At the trade deadline that season, Schmidt orchestrated the trade that brought Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to Boston from the Chicago Blackhawks. With the future hall of famers Orr and Esposito, the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1970 and again two years later.

Schmidt was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961. The Bruins retired his No. 15 in 1980. At the age of 98, he was back in the new Boston Garden on opening night of the 2016-17 season, when the team celebrated the 80th anniversary of his first game and the 50th anniversary of Orr’s debut.