LINCOLN — As he did in his playing days, Rick Middleton on Saturday was again a Boston Bruins leader, at the fore of more than a dozen former teammates who turned out for a fundraiser to benefit the Loon Mountain-based New England Disabled Sports.
Held at the at RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain, the fundraiser included a skate-around with the Boston Bruins Alumni Team; cocktails; auctions; appetizers and photo opportunities.
The NEDS fundraiser, one of about 30 charity events that the alumni team participates in annually, is different, said Middleton, in that it’s centered around a meet-and-greet rather than a game.
In his 10th year as president of the Bruins Alumni Team, Middleton, who earned the nickname “Nifty,” has had a lot to smile about lately.
Last month, the Boston Bruins, for whom he played 12 season and scored 402 goals, retired Middleton’s No. 16.
Given that the Bruins have retired only 11 numbers in their nearly century of hockey, the action, said Middleton, was “very special.” Asked about his current game, Middleton replied that despite some back and leg pain, he’s still skating, “but I wouldn’t call it well.”
A resident of Hampton since 1997, Middleton considers himself a Granite Stater. He said he’s happy to support the NEDS fundraiser because it allows the players to bring their families before ending up at the rink to do what they love most: skating and talking hockey.
“Everyone has an era and you always have your heroes” who show up at alumni events, said Middleton, who at one point, exchanged greetings with the Hood family — Sue and Ray and their son Corey — who came all the way from Berlin to meet him.
Dennis Ducharme, who is the president and owner of the RiverWalk resort, said NEDS is a “fantastic program” and one that helped his own son learn how to ski. He said that the 2017 RiverWalk/Bruins fundraiser brought in $19,000 for NEDS and hoped the sum would be even larger this year.
Tom Morse of Ashland, who came to the fundraiser with his girlfriend, Lisa Noel, and his support dog, “Victory,” said the event was even better than he expected. Legally blind, Morse, 47, contracted glaucoma when he was 12. He is a diehard Bruins fan and on Saturday, he got a chance to meet his idol, Terry O’Reilly.
O’Reilly signed Morse’s Bruins jersey and later posed for a photo.