fb-pixel Skip to main content

Bobby Schmautz, whose OT goal lifted the Bruins in 1978 finals, dies at 76

Mr. Schmautz battled for the puck with Montreal Canadiens' Larry Robinson during Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinals at the Boston Garden in 1979.
Mr. Schmautz battled for the puck with Montreal Canadiens' Larry Robinson during Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinals at the Boston Garden in 1979.Tom Landers/Globe Staff

Bobby Schmautz knew what the scouting reports had recommended as he approached the net on May 21, 1978, with the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens tied 3-3 in overtime during the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

He was 5-foot-9 and Montreal’s goalie, Ken Dryden, was 6-foot-4. “They tell us to shoot low on him,” Mr. Schmautz told the Globe’s Will McDonough afterward. “You know, the guy’s all arms and legs.”

But more than 6 minutes into overtime at Boston Garden wasn’t an ideal time to pause and mentally review pre-game plans, so he went with his instincts.

“To be honest, I didn’t even think. I just wheeled and let it go,” he said. “When it went in – I never had a better feeling in my life.”

Advertisement



Mr. Schmautz died Sunday in his Arizona home on his 76th birthday, the Bruins announced. A cause of death was not disclosed.

His overtime goal in the fourth game of the 1978 Stanley Cup finals, tying the series 2-2, was his most memorable moment with the Bruins, even though the Canadiens won the next two games to take the championship, 4-2.

Playing in the National Hockey League from 1967 to 1981, he joined the Bruins in February 1974 and was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in December 1979.

He helped Boston reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1974, ’77, and ’78, only to see the Bruins fall short all three times.

Mr. Schmautz scored 20 or more goals for five straight seasons in Boston. In 1977-78, he was among a record 11 players on the team to score 20 or more goals that season — Mr. Schmautz’s total of 27 was third-highest among the Bruins.

Upon first hearing rumors during the 1973-74 season that the Vancouver Canucks might trade him to Boston, he at first considered it “a matter of wait and see.”

Advertisement



When the news was finally official, “I guess you shouldn’t say I was just happy — I’m thrilled about going from a last-place team to a first-place team,” he told the Globe in February 1974.

Known in Vancouver nearly as much for his penalty minutes as he was for his scoring, he said upon arriving in Boston that when it came to shooting, “I don’t rely on one thing. I mix it up pretty much between slap shots and wrist shots. I’m not the type that can hang in front of the net, so most of my goals are scored from 12 to 20 feet out.”

And though Mr. Schmautz was somewhat small for the NHL — just 160 pounds at the time of the trade, the Globe reported — he gave little thought to the difference between him and other players.

“I know it would be better to be bigger and taller,” he said, “but I just make the most of things.”

Mr. Schmautz, squaring off against Chicago Black Hawks' John Marks during Game One of the first round of the 1975 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Boston Garden. Although he was small, the former Bruin was known for his scrappy approach to the game.
Mr. Schmautz, squaring off against Chicago Black Hawks' John Marks during Game One of the first round of the 1975 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Boston Garden. Although he was small, the former Bruin was known for his scrappy approach to the game.Dan Goshtigian/Globe Staff

For his career, he played in 764 games, with 271 goals and 557 points.

Born on March 28, 1945, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Robert Schmautz played junior league hockey before landing a professional contract with the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League in 1964.

In 1967, he joined the NHL’s Chicago Black Hawks, and three years later he was with the Canucks, then an expansion team. His best scoring season was in Vancouver — in 1972-73, when he had 38 goals and 71 points in 77 games, career-high totals in all three categories.

Advertisement



After leaving Boston, Mr. Schmautz played for Edmonton and the Colorado Rockies before finishing his career in Vancouver.

A complete list of survivors and information about a memorial service was not immediately available.

The overtime goal Mr. Schmautz scored for Boston in the 1978 Stanley Cup finals “was the high point of my career,” he recalled in a 1988 Globe interview, almost a decade to the day after his shot tied the series at two games each.

“Nothing, nothing, matched the feeling of being in the Cup final with the Bruins,” he added. “I still feel disappointment today because we worked so hard and came up short in ’78. But when you look back, it’s amazing what we did, really amazing.”


Bryan Marquard can be reached at bryan.marquard@globe.com.