Last week, we spoke of the birth and maiden voyages of the Hockey Club we love today. From the Owner and Founder, Charles Adams, down to the first great Bruins Legends, Eddie Shore and Tiny Thompson to name a couple.
This week, we’ll delve into the 1930’s and World War II era’s, a time of more great legends and records still unbroken.
1930’s: A DECADE OF LEGENDARY PLAYERS, RECORDS, AND HONOR
The 1930’s is possibly the most recorded, yet still unspoken part of history in our illustrious Hockey Club. It included records which still stand today, and possibly one of biggest acts of honor outside of actual Hockey in NHL history.
Starting off the 30’s in a good way included players like Eddie Shore, Tiny Thompson, Babe Siebert, and Cooney Weiland, to lead the league five times before 1939. That year, Brown and Yellow were traded for our colorway which stands today, Black and Gold, and the Bruins won their second Stanley Cup in Franchise history.
Also in 1939, Tiny Thompson was traded to the Detroit Red Wings following an injury sustained during an exhibition match. This would open the primary position for Goaltender who would soon be known as, “Mr. Zero.”
Frank Brimsek was acquired by the Bruins in 1937, being originally owned by the Detroit Red Wings. Initially deemed a “short-term call-up,” not much was expected of Brimsek, given his lack of experience in the NHL. Surprising everyone and taking the history books by storm, Brimsek recorded six Shutouts in his first seven games as the Bruins‘ starting Goaltender. This earned him the moniker, “Mr. Zero.”
In his debut season, Mr. Zero changed the face of goaltending, becoming the first rookie to the NHL First All-Star Team, and earning Vezina and Calder Trophies. He was also a member of the 1941 Stanley Cup winning team. During World War II, Brimsek took a two-year break from Hockey to join the United States Coast Guard. Upon his return the NHL, it was spoken that his skills, “weren’t as sharp as before.” Despite this, Mr. Zero continued to be one of the best goalies in the league, being named to NHL All- Star Teams 8 out of his 9 seasons (two on the first team, six on the second).
Frank Brimsek remains one of the most accomplished American Goaltenders of all time. For 54 years, he held the record for most wins for an American Goaltender, and for 61 years, most shutouts by an American Goaltender. His eight appearances in the NHL All-Star Game put him in second for all-time goalie appearances. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.
On the Ice in front of Brimsek remained Eddie Shore (until he was traded to the struggling New York Rangers in 1940, and retired the following season), Bill Cowley, “Sudden Death” Mel Hill, and the Legendary “Kraut Line,” made up of Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer, and Woody Dumart.
Despite missing twelve games due to injuries in 1939, Bill “Cowboy” Cowley would become a Star Playmaker, leading the league in assists in 1939, 1941, and 1943. Cowley was also part of the team responsible for the 1939 and 1941 Stanley Cups. Remaining the only Bruins Star during World War II, Bill was on his way to shattering the league record for scoring in 1944, but fell just two points short due to frequent injury. At the time of his retirement in 1947, Cowboy Cowley was the NHL’s All-Time Leading Point Scorer and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1968.
Along with Cowboy Cowley for the 1939 and 1941 Stanley Cups was Mel Hell. His initial stint with the Bruins was in the 1937-1938 season, playing only 6 games, but scoring 2 goals. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs of 1939, Hill made his mark and earned himself the moniker, “Sudden Death,” by scoring 3 overtime goals to win the Stanley Cup Semi-Final against the New York Rangers and going on to win the Cup. Overall, Sudden Death had twelve games and six goals in the playoffs.
Along with Eddie Shore, Cowboy Cowley, and Sudden Death Hill was the Legendary “Kraut Line.” This moniker was given to the trio of powerhouse players by Montreal Canadien, Albert Leduc (1925-1933), referring to their shared German decent, and all hailing from Kitchener, Ontario.
The Kraut Line was organized as Center Milt Schmidt, Left Wing Woody Dumart, and Right Wing Bobby Bauer. Famously attached by sharing a room in Brookline, MA, the line was so accomplished, that in the 1939-1940 season, they were ranked 1-2-3 in the NHL in scoring. Schmidt in the lead with 22 goals and 30 assists, followed by Dumart with 22 goals and 21 assists, and Bauer rounding it off with 17 goals and 26 assists. It goes without saying this powerhouse of a line played a huge role in the winning of the 1939 and 1941 Stanley Cups.
RIVALRIES PUT ASIDE TO THOSE WHO GIVE ALL
Until February 1942, the Kraut Line accounted for 22 points in goals and assists that season.
On February 11th, 1942, Bruins and old time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, put aside rivalries to play the Kraut Line’s final game. During the action, the Bruins steamrolled over the Habs in an 8-1 Victory.
The outcome of the game put aside, both teams joined together in an ultimate display of gratitude towards the famous line and paraded them to report for duty after their enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1942 to 1946. During their absence, contests were held to replace the name of the line. During the War, the line was referred to as, the “Kitchener Kids,” but the name remained, “Kraut Line,” upon the War’s end.
The famous line came to an end at Bobby Bauer’s retirement in 1947. On March 18th, 1952, a special reunion game was held against the Chicago Blackhawks. During the game, Schmidt scored his 200th Career Goal, and Bauer had a goal and an assist, despite being retired the previous five years.
All three players were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Bauer in 1996, Dumart in 1992, and Schmidt in 1961.
WORLD WAR II AND THE “ORIGINAL SIX” ERA
With the enlistment of Mr. Zero and the Krauts, the NHL had been so depleted of talent that in 1943, it was reduced to what we now know as, the “Original Six.” In that time, freak seasons would happen. For example, in 1944 when Bruin Herb Cain would set a then-NHL record of 82 points in a season. The Bruins did make the playoffs that year, and Cain was out two seasons later.
Player or event we missed? Let us and the other readers know in the comments!