As his No. 16 sweater rose up the rafters on Thursday night, Rick Middleton joined some elite company.
“Nifty” became the 11th player in Bruins franchise history to have his jersey number retired, joining Lionel Hitchman (#3), Dit Clapper (#5), Eddie Shore (#2), Milt Schmidt (#15), Bobby Orr (#4), Johnny Bucyk (#9), Phil Esposito (#7), Ray Bourque (#77,), Terry O’Reilly (#24) and Cam Neely (#8).
It was a long time coming for Middleton — and the first time that the B’s had retired a jersey number since Neely’s No. 8 was honored back in 2004.
Bruins fans might have to wait a few years for the next jersey to rise into the rafters, but there are quite a few intriguing candidates that might get their number immortalized by the Black and Gold.