The Boston Bruins announced Tuesday that they will retire the number 22 jersey of Willie O’Ree, the first black to appear in a National Hockey League (NHL) game, ahead of the Feb. 18 game against the New York Devils. Jersey at TD Garden.
O’Ree, 85, will be the 12th player to earn the honor in club history. The Fredericton native and Hall of Fame member first skated in the NHL on Jan. 18, 1958 at the Montreal Forum. He totaled 45 NHL games over two seasons (1957-1958, 1960-1962) with the Bruins despite being blind in his right eye, the result of an injury sustained from an injury. in the junior ranks. He has amassed 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) during his career.
“I am feverish, overwhelmed by emotions,” he admitted to the NHL.com site of the tribute that will be paid to him.
“Willie’s contribution to hockey transcended his accomplishments on the ice and opened many doors for those who played after him. He definitely deserves this honor, ”Bruins president Cam Neely said in a press release.
Other Bruins who have had their shirts removed include Raymond Bourque, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and Johnny Bucyk.
O’Ree was inducted into the Temple in November 2018 due to his accomplishments outside of the rink. He has helped create a new generation of players and fans as an ambassador for NHL diversity.
In fact, players on the Bettman Tour will wear stickers on their helmets to celebrate the anniversary of this event and mark Martin Luther King Day on January 18, a public holiday in the United States that honors the late civil rights defender. .
The sticker will feature an image of O’Ree wearing her classic felt hat with the words “Celebrate Equality”. Players will wear the stickers from January 16 until the end of Black History Month in February.