Between alumni games, golf tournaments, the Pan-Mass Challenge and other events, it is clear that the Boston Bruins alumni will never get enough of the Black & Gold.
Friday, June 20th, was no exception as three B’s alumni took time out of their busy schedules to join All-Star goaltender Tim Thomas
and fans from around the Hub of Hockey at DJ’s at the Garden for the 2008 Bruins Draft Party.
Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton and Gary Doak all agreed that they were excited to be there among the avid fans waiting to see the B’s make their first round draft selection.
"It is great (to be here)," said Doak. "The Bruins have come a long way in the last couple years and now they are back in contention.
“And you can see by the number of people here tonight that Boston is still such a good hockey town -- it is good to see the Bruins doing well again."
All three of the alums are also in training (or lack of training) for the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge coming up at the beginning of August.
O’Reilly is definitely ready to get out on the open road again.
“I am trying to get prepared for it,” he said. “I need to get out on my bicycle a little bit more.
“This will be my sixth year riding it, my third with the Boston Bruins team -- it is just a wonderful event.”
Unlike his counter part, Middleton isn’t too worried about the preparation.
“I haven’t prepared for it yet, I don’t even have my bike,” he joked. “It’s Terry O’Reilly’s bike that he gave to me last year.
“I only rode like three times last year, and then I rode the 400 miles. So I figure it is going to hurt anyways, so why even bother hurting more?”
While Doak mingled with fans, O’Reilly and Middleton were asked what their favorite events to attend as an alum were. For O’Reilly, it was the PMC and the Bruins Foundation Bike Team.
“The Pan-Mass is my favorite event,” explained O’Reilly. “Last year we had eight former players and we raised $165,000.
“We came across the finish line in a group of 25 -- everyone on the team -- we met about a mile before the finish line, and came in together. It was neat.”
Although Middleton agreed that he loved the bike event, he also loves the links, too.
“What is nice to me is our golf tournament,” Middleton said. “It started off as just a regular charity golf tournament, but then the Bruins and the Foundation became involved in it.
“And now the current players and the alumni both play and they have really turned it into a very big event.
“It is great that after all these years that the regular Bruins team and the alumni are closer than ever,” he said.
Why does Middleton think the generation gap has been closed?
“(The B’s) see a value in having the retired players around,” he said. “And the retired players love being involved in things because their hearts are still with the Bruins. They kept their homes in the area. They are still fans; they go to the games.
“So it is nice that the two of them can do something together in the community as a joint effort.”
If any alum has kept their hearts with the Bruins, it’s the man nicknamed “Nifty.”
Middleton recently took over as the president of the Bruins Alumni Association.
“I am just learning that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye,” he said. “As a player, you show up to the games and events and everything is all set and you think, ‘Hey, this is great!’
“But there is a lot that goes on from the planning stage with organizations, charities and youth hockey groups.
“Right now, I am just learning the ropes, but next year is my first full year, so I imagine I will be pretty busy,” he said.
Middleton is not the only player to maintain a position with the team and the Bruins are lucky enough to have several former players around the offices every day.
Former Bruin Bob Sweeney is the Director of Development for the Boston Bruins Foundation, John “Chief” Bucyk acts as the Team Road Services Coordinator, Cam Neely is the Vice President of the organization and Don Sweeney is the Director of Player Development and Hockey Operations.
In his role, Don Sweeney has had a few years head start on Middleton in terms of a behind-the-scenes view.
“You obviously have a better understanding (than you did as a player) and appreciate the day-to-day things that have to be done behind the scenes to make things run smoothly,” he explained. “There are always going to be bumps in the road, but people work awfully hard to provide the best opportunity for the players.”
“Ultimately, I think the players understand that, but I think you are sheltered from that a little bit.”
Bob Sweeney works day-to-day with all the other alums that aren’t lucky enough to be working in the B’s offices and lists Middleton, O’Reilly and Doak as three of the guys who give a lot back to the Hub of Hockey.
“Rick has just taken over the Bruins alumni as President,” he said. “He has been around here for many years, the same with Terry and Gary.
“Terry has been involved in numerous charities, in particular the Liver Foundation because his son was very sick when he was finishing his career as a player and when he was coaching us in the mid to late 80s with the Bruins.
“I think we are fortunate to have here in Boston, a lot of these former Bruins giving back their time and their efforts to so many charities.”