The Kraut Line

Bobby Bauer, Milt Schmidt and Woody Dumart (Photo: Boston Public Library)

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Milt Schmidt was honored the other night at the Garden, writes the Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont.

Out from behind the Boston bench came Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Terry O’Reilly, and John Bucyk. Schmidt’s No. 15, retired long ago, had been lowered from the Garden rafters prior to the ceremony. But now, with fellow legends festooned around him, it was time for Schmidt to do something for the first time: enjoy the pleasure and honor of lifting his No. 15 to the Garden’s heavens.

He remained ever stoic, but it was clear, 75 years after showing up here as a 17-year-old full of energy and dreams, that the moment caught him with the impact of a Gordie Howe elbow to the ribs.

“The spoked-B,” he said, “is practically my family crest.”

* * *

“I’ll tell you a story,’’ Schmidt said earlier, recalling his perpetual on-ice battles with Detroit defenseman Jack Stewart. “We ran at each other every time we got on the ice.’’

So much so, Schmidt recalled, that Boston’s coach warned him that he might be benched, for fear that Schmidt was going to get hurt.

“Don’t ever do that to me at any time!’’ said Schmidt. “Jack and I didn’t see eye to eye, and we were at each other’s throats all the time.’’

Later, when they were both retired, recalled Schmidt, Stewart paid him an unexpected visit in the Boston dressing room, Schmidt by then the Boston coach. He could feel his hands tightening at the sight of the menacing Stewart.

“Then he gave me a little smile, and I smiled at him,’’ said Schmidt. “We shook hands, threw the other hand around each other — and I won’t use the language we used — but what we said was, ‘Weren’t we a couple of old crazy guys?’ The best thing that ever happened to me. As bitter enemies as we were, we ended up by being good friends.’’

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