BOSTON – Boston Bruins President Cam Neely announced the club will honor long-retired winger Rick Middleton by retiring his number 16 jersey prior to the team’s game against the New York Islanders on Thursday, November 29.
“It was a great honor to call Rick today and let him know that he will join the group of retired numbers in the TD Garden rafters,” said Bruins President Cam Neely. “As a player and a person Rick embodies what it means to be a Bruin, and we are excited to celebrate his career with his family, friends and our fans on November 29th.”
“Mr. Middleton’s number 16 has long deserved to be raised to TD Garden’s rafters,” said Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs. “I look forward to participating in the events on November 29th as it will be a very special evening for Mr. Middleton and the entire Bruins organization.”
Middleton is the 11th player to have his sweater honored by the Boston Bruins in franchise history, joining Lionel Hitchman (#3, 1934), Aubrey V. Clapper (#5, 1947), Edward W. Shore (#2, 1949), Milton C. Schmidt (#15, 1957), Robert G. Orr (#4, 1979), John P. Bucyk (#9, 1980), Philip A. Esposito (#7, 1987), Raymond J. Bourque (#77, 2001), Terence J. O’Reilly (#24, 2002) and Cameron M. Neely (#8, 2004).
Middleton played 12 NHL seasons with the Bruins from 1976-88, compiling 402 goals and 496 assists for 898 points in 881 games. His 402 goals are the third-most in Bruins history behind John Bucyk (545) and Phil Esposito (459). His 496 assists are sixth-most in Bruins history behind Ray Bourque (1,111), John Bucyk (794), Bobby Orr (624), Phil Esposito (553) and Wayne Cashman (516). He ranks fourth on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list with 898 points, behind Ray Bourque (1,506), John Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound right winger led the Bruins in scoring four straight seasons from 1978-82 (tied Peter McNab with 40 goals in 1979-80), and also led the team in goals six straight seasons from 1978-84. He enjoyed his best season in 1981-82, when he was named a second-team All-Star after scoring a career-high 51 goals – joining Phil Esposito (5), Cam Neely (3), John Bucyk and Ken Hodge as the only 50-goal scorers in Boston Bruins history. Middleton also received the 1981-82 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
Middleton passed the 100-point mark twice in his Bruins career. He tallied 44 goals and 59 assists for 103 points in 1980-81, and then notched 47 goals and 58 assists for 105 points in 1983-84, tying Ken Hodge for the most points by a right wing in franchise history. He was a key piece of the 1977-78 Boston Bruins, which was the only team in NHL history to feature 11 different 20-goal scorers in the same season. Peter McNab (41), Terry O’Reilly (29), Bobby Schmautz (27), Stan Jonathan (27), Jean Ratelle(25), Rick Middleton (25), Wayne Cashman (24), Gregg Sheppard (23), Brad Park (22), Don Marcotte (20) and Bob Miller (20) each reached or surpassed the 20-goal mark to help lead the team to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Toronto, Ontario native was originally selected by the New York Rangers in the first round (14th overall) of the 1973 NHL amateur draft. He played two seasons with the Rangers from 1974-76, posting 46 goals and 44 assists for 90 points in 124 appearances, before being acquired by Boston in exchange for Ken Hodge on May 26, 1976.