Rick "Nifty" Middleton
A right winger, Middleton was drafted in the 1st round, 14th overall, by the Rangers in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft after a glittering junior career with the Oshawa Generals in which he led his league in scoring his final year and was named to the league's Second All-Star Team. He spent the 1973–74 season with the Rangers' farm team, the AHL Providence Reds, earning rookie of the year honors and being named to the AHL's First All-Star Team.
He made the big club during the 1974–75 season, and despite suffering injuries that restricted him to 47 games, scored 22 goals in that limited time. The following season he scored 24 goals in 77 games.
Following the 1975–76 season, the Rangers traded Middleton to the Boston Bruins for veteran winger Ken Hodge.
It was one of the most one-sided deals in hockey history. Hodge played only a single season more before his career ended, while Middleton became a great star in Boston, scoring a hat trick in his first game as a Bruin and nearly nine hundred points in a Bruins uniform over the next twelve years. Generally paired with centre Barry Pederson, Middleton had five straight seasons of at least forty goals and ninety points and led the Bruins to perennial glittering records. His leadership was apparent in being named co-captain (with Ray Bourque) to succeed Terry O'Reilly in 1985, a position he held until he retired, wearing the "C" during home games.
His best season was the 1981–82 season, during which Middleton scored a career high 51 goals, won the Lady Byng Trophy for excellence and sportsmanship, and was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team. The following season he led the Bruins to the league's best regular season record, and set still unbroken records that year for the most points scored in the playoffs by a player not advancing to the finals (33) and for a single playoff series (19, in the quarterfinals against Buffalo). His 105 points in the 1983–84 season tied Ken Hodge's team record for most points scored in a season by a right winger, and remains unbroken.
Middleton also starred in international play, being named to play for Team Canada in the Canada Cup in 1981 and 1984. Teamed on a line with Wayne Gretzky and Michel Goulet in the 1984 series, he scored four goals and four assists in seven games. Further, Middleton played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1981, 1982 and 1984.