( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )
On November 29th, just five days from now, the Boston Bruins will raise another number to the rafters. This one will be the 11th number to be retired in the history of the franchise, founded in 1924. The first ever number to be retired was Lionel Hitchman’s number three back in 1934, and the most recent number to be raised to the rafters was Cam Neely’s number eight in 2004. The latest addition to this legendary group is quite a “Nifty” guy. All joking aside, Rick Middleton will have his number 16 raised to the rafters in a pre-game ceremony prior to the Bruins matchup with the New York Islanders next Thursday.
Bruins announce that the pregame ceremony to retire Rick Middleton’s No. 16 jersey on Nov. 29 will begin at 6:30 p.m ahead of the Bruins/Islanders game.
Due to the pregame ceremony, puck drop for the game will be at 8:08 p.m.
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 21, 2018
Middleton is fourth on the all-time scoring list in Bruins history with 988 points amassed in 12 seasons in black and gold. Only Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, and Phil Esposito had more points in their legendary Bruins careers. Middleton is one of only three players to score at least 400 goals in his career in Boston. Born a Leafs fan in Toronto, Middleton broke into the league as a 21-year-old for the New York Rangers, totaling 22 goals and 18 assists in just 47 games. Traded to the Bruins in 1976, Middleton scored 20 goals and added 22 assists in his first season in Boston. Middleton’s best statistical season came in 1983-84 when he scored a career-high 105 points on 47 goals and 58 assists. Middleton had more than 40 goals five times in his career, and impressively, he did it in five consecutive seasons with a high of 51 in 1981-82. It is also worth noting that Middleton is one of about 320 players who have played in more than 1,000 games in their careers.
Middleton played for six coaches during his Bruins career, from Don Cherry to Terry O’Reilly and a few in between. The Bruins made three appearances in the Stanley Cup Final during Middleton’s time in Boston, twice in his first two seasons and then in his final season. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost each time, twice to the Montreal Canadiens and once to the Edmonton Oilers. Perhaps the most infamous moment during Middleton’s career happened on December 23rd, 1979, the night Mike Millbury beat a fan with his shoe at Madison Square Garden. Three Bruins were suspended and fined, but fortunately, no blood was spilled.
Middleton was a three-time All-Star and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1982 as the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Middleton holds a few league records as well, including most points ever recorded in one playoff series and the most assists ever recorded in a playoff series. Middleton scored exactly 100 points in his postseason career in 114 games. Middleton finished just 12 points shy of 1,000 points for his career, but his legacy will be remembered forever when his number gets raised to the TD Garden rafters next week.