Saturday, December 4, 2010
Drafted in the first round, 14th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, Rick Middleton had just completed a standout season with the Oshawa Generals where scored 67 goals and 137 points in 62 games to lead the Ontario Hockey League in scoring.
After playing the 1973-74 season with the Providence Reds, which included leading the Reds in scoring and a run to the AHL Calder Cup Finals, Middleton made the Rangers roster but was limited to 47 games by injuries, but still scored 22 goals in his rookie season. After one more season with the Rangers, he was traded to the Boston Bruins for twelve year veteran Ken Hodge. The trade would work out great for the Bruins, as Hodge would play less than 100 games for the Rangers before his NHL career would end, while Middleton's career was just beginning.
Middleton while with the Rangers. Note the Rangers 50th Anniversary patch.
His arrival in Boston was a memorable one, with a hat trick in his very first game on his way to a third consecutive 20 goal season prior to the Bruins reaching the finals that season. Over the next four consecutive seasons Middleton raised his personal best point total from 60 to 86, then 92 and finally 103 in 1980-81.
The next season Middleton set a career high in goal scoring with 51 in 1981-82 and was named the winner of the 1982 Lady Byng Trophy.
He backed up his 51 goals with 49 the next season, which included 33 points in 17 games to lead the Bruins in playoff scoring. 1983-84 saw Middleton register his fifth consecutive 40 goal season with 47, and added 58 assists for a career high 105 points, his second season with over 100.
In 1985 Middleton was named one of the Bruins co-captains, along with Ray Bourque, in a system where Middleton would wear the "C" for home games, while Bourque captained the team on the road.
Middleton wearing the captain's "C" at home
The shared captaincy system remained in place for the final three seasons of Middleton's career, which concluded at the end of the 1987-88 season, during which Middleton would play in his 1,000th NHL game and make another return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Middleton's final NHL totals are 1,005 games played, 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points. In addition, he played in three All-Star Games and scored 100 points in 114 playoff games.
Internationally, Middleton competed for Canada in both the 1981 Canada Cup and the 1984 edition, where he played on a line with Wayne Gretzky and scored four goals and eight points in seven games to help Canada capture the championship.
Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 Boston Bruins Rick Middleton jersey as worn during Middleton's time while sharing the Bruins captaincy. Since Middleton was the designated home captain, he would wear the "A" for games on the road while wearing the Bruins black road jerseys.
This jersey style was adopted in 1974 and went through some minor changes, such as the addition of shoulder logos in 1976 and names on the back in 1977. It would remain in use through 1995.
Today's first video contains highlights from Middleton's career. While the soundtrack has been disabled by YouTube, the footage is still well worth your time and shows the dynamic Middleton at his finest.
In a good dose of old time hockey, Middleton slugs it out with Darryl Sittler of the Maple Leafs as the haymakers fly.
Finally, Middleton scores on a penalty shot during the Bruins Legends Classic at the 2010 Winter Classic outdoor game at Fenway Park.