BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Special night last night at the Garden for Bruins legend Rick Middleton.
"You're extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the game of hockey, and it's always been a huge thrill to play in front of you," Middleton told the crowd. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and thank you for being so good to me all these years."
B's retired Nifty's number 16, with former stars like Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, John Bucyk, and Terry O'Reilly on hand. And, of course, Middleton's old coach Don Cherry.
"When Harry Sinnett phoned me and he said we got a chance to get Middleton, do you want him? I said, 'He goes that way, but he doesn't go this way!'," Cherry said. "We had to introduce him to the goalie at the end of the season!"
Very fitting end to 2-1 win over the Islanders, with Ryan Donato netting the shootout goal in his first game back from Providence.
Donato's favorite number is 16. It's the sweater he wore at Harvard. But, the Middleton connection goes deeper for Ryan's family.
"When I was down in Providence, I actually went home a couple of days, a couple times my dad would show me his highlights on YouTube, he's his favorite player, so I think he'd be pretty excited I was here for this game," he said.
Donato said he'd absolutely wear 16 if it were available, so he opted for 17 to stay close.
WBZ NewsRadio's Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) reports