Bruins

Bruins to retire Rick Middleton's No. 16

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File Photo

Bruins to retire Rick Middleton's No. 16

The Bruins announced Tuesday that they will retire Rick Middleton's number prior to the team's game against the Islanders on Thursday, Nov. 29. 

The right wing spent 12 seasons with the Bruins, scoring 402 goals with 496 assists for 898 points. He enjoyed five straight seasons with at least 40 goals from 1979 through the 1983-84 season. 
  
Middleton's No. 16 will become the 11th number sent to the rafters by the B's, joining Lionel Hitchman, Dit Clapper, Eddie Shore, Milt Schmidt, Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito, Ray Bourque, Terry O'Reilly and Cam Neely. The last number retired by the team was Neely's No. 8, which was retired in 2004. 

"It was a great honor to call Rick today and let him know that he will join the group of retired numbers in the TD Garden rafters," Neely said in a statement released by the team. "As a player and a person Rick embodies what it means to be a Bruin, and we are excited to celebrate his career with his family, friends and our fans on November 29th."

NHL Rumors: Bruins interested in Charlie Coyle, but should they be?

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USA Today Sports Photo

NHL Rumors: Bruins interested in Charlie Coyle, but should they be?

The Bruins have now been linked to local hockey product Charlie Coyle a couple of different times in trade rumors over the last few weeks. Pierre Lebrun from the Athletic said on Montreal sports radio on Tuesday that “for sure the Bruins have kicked the tires on Charlie Coyle” in exploratory trade discussions with the Minnesota Wild.

So how should we feel about all this?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the versatile Coyle can play both center and wing, has good size, is a hockey product out of Weymouth and that he played at Boston University before joining up with the Wild. Coyle checks a lot of the boxes that the Bruins seem to require for the players around the league that they’re interested in.

After all, Coyle is a pretty solid NHL player.

He’s posted 82 goals and 228 points in 449 games after being a first round pick in the 2010 draft, and brings 6-foot-3, 218-pound size along with top-9 skill to the table while still being smack dab in the middle of his prime at 26 years old. Coyle is clearly a useful player and bringing him into the Bruins fold would instantly make them a better team if he were to slide over to third line center, or even supplant a struggling young player if Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen can’t keep up their current offensive hot streaks.

But we’re also talking about a player that’s topped 20 goals only once in his five full seasons, and only has gone over 40 points twice in those five years with the Wild. He’s a better third line center than JFK right now with five goals and 14 points in 30 games this season, but would it be better for the Bruins in the long run to get either JFK or Trent Frederic real NHL experience down the stretch rather than hand things over to a veteran with a ceiling of about 15 goals and 40 points?

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Similarly, it doesn’t feel like Coyle would be a guy that’s going to work as a goal-scoring winger on the second line with David Krejci. He has the kind of size the Bruins are looking for, of course, but Jake DeBrusk is more of an impact player than Coyle in only his second NHL season. He’s an upgrade over some of the young players currently on the roster, but how much more is really up for debate at this point.  

It should all come down to cost in the end for the Black and Gold. If they can get Coyle for a player like Anders Bjork who might not have a long-term future in Boston given some of the flaws in his still promising game, then it would be a good get for the Black and Gold to make them a deeper all-around team.

But a cost of Ryan Donato, or even the struggling Heinen, for Coyle would be too high of a price considering that Heinen’s 16 goals and 47 points last season are better than most of Coyle’s five full seasons in the NHL. He’s a good story because he’s a local kid and a Hockey East product that everybody is familiar with around Boston, but the Bruins already have more than enough New England kids and college hockey products on their NHL roster.

They don’t need more unless they are high-impact players.  

What they need is a winger who can score goals and give Krejci the kind of talented wingers he’s excelling with right now while skating in the injured Patrice Bergeron’s place with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The last three games are a stark reminder that Krejci hasn’t been given enough on his wings over the last few seasons.

Coyle simply hasn’t been that kind of high impact player for the Wild to this point in his career, and if he was ever going to be that kind of player, he’d already be doing it in Minnesota.

If the cost is right, then Coyle makes a lot of sense, but there will certainly be bigger, better names out there for the Bruins a little closer to the NHL trade deadline when Don Sweeney might be willing to pull the trigger. With the B’s still in a playoff spot, it’s a smart play to wait and see the trade landscape unfold over the next few months with no big hurry to swing a deal. 

Bruins' David Backes barely escapes serious injury in taking skate blade to the face

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AP Photo

Bruins' David Backes barely escapes serious injury in taking skate blade to the face

BOSTON – It seems like David Backes has been a magnet for high sticks this season and the 34-year-old has also missed time with a concussion as well.

The bad luck streak continued for him on Tuesday night when Backes caught an errant skate blade to the face in the first period as Oliver Ekman-Larsson kicked up his skates aside the Arizona net. He immediately sprinted off the ice toward the Bruins dressing room while covering his bloody face with his hand.  

True to hockey player form, Backes returned and played 15:31 of ice time with three shot attempts, three hits and went 4-for-10 in the face-off circle while toughing it out with a face full of stitches.

“I didn’t know what happened at first, but the way [Backes] came off you figured it was worse than a high stick. Sure enough. Those are tough, up around your eyes too, but he was able to play through it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I’m sure he’ll be sore tomorrow. Charlie [McAvoy] too got a high stick under the visor, so he’s had some tough luck recently, but he’s battling through it. It was a bit like our game [against the Coyotes]. It wasn’t pretty, but we got through it.”

Backes didn’t discuss his close call with the media following the Bruins win, but was spotted walking out of TD Garden with a stitched up slice next to his nose, but thankfully far from his neck, his eyes or anywhere else where the blade could have done major damage. Instead Backes will just add to the character of a 34-year-old face that’s seen its share of bumps and bruises over the course of a long NHL career. 

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