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July 14, 2013

Woody Dumart

Coach Lynn Patrick called him Porky, but he was best known as Woody. Woody Dumart was one third of the Boston Bruins famed Kraut Line along with fellow Kitchener Kids Milt Schmidt and Bobby Bauer.

Named after the American president at the time, Woodrow Wilson Clarence Dumart was born on December 23rd, 1916 in Kitchener, Ontario. Actually, back then it was named Berlin, but they renamed the city due to Germany's role in World War I.

Like most of the kids in Kitchener, Woody fell in love with the game of hockey, playing it on the frozen outdoors ponds and sloughs. Soon enough he and his friends caught the eyes of the bird dogs of the Boston Bruins. All three would sign on with the B's.

The three famous linemates did not play on the same line as youths or in junior. In fact, Dumart played defense for much of his youth. It was not until the three turned pro that they became a line. Former NHLer Battleship Leduc first put them together when he was coaching the Providence Reds in the AHL during the 1936-37 season. Battleship even coined their original nickname - the Sauerkraut Line.

The following season the three became NHL regulars, and their play was anything but sour. Bauer was a sniper. Schmidt was the complete center. Dumart was the standout defensive left winger with a timely scoring touch. His hard work made him a natural leader and fan favorite.

By 1939 the Kitchener Kids could also call themselves Stanley Cup champions. That season was special for the line. The trio became the first line in NHL history to finish 1-2-3 in league scoring. They would win another Stanley Cup in 1941.

World War II interrupted their run. All served in Canada's war efforts, although in their case they were not very close to battle. They were stationed in Ottawa and played hockey with the Royal Canadian Air Force team, winning the Allan Cup as Canada's amateur champions in 1942. Dumart actually did serve overseas for two hockey seasons.

When the war was over the Kraut line returned to Boston. Dumart recorded four 20+ goal seasons and was named to the end of season Second All Star team in 1947, the third such honour in his career.

Dumart continued to play with the Bruins through 1954, although he became more of a utility forward towards the end. He finished his career with 211 goals and 218 assists in 772 games. His numbers would have been even more impressive had he not lost 4 prime seasons to the war. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.

Dumart suffered heart trouble Oct. 4, 2001 on his way to Ray Bourque Night at the FleetCenter. He died 16 days later. He was 84 years old.

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