Willie O’Ree’s number retirement postponed to 2022

FAN Editor
NHL: NHL Awards
Jun 19, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Willie O’Ree is pictured on the red carpet during the 2019 NHL Awards at Mandalay Bay. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

February 12, 2021

The Boston Bruins will wait another year to retire Willie O’Ree’s jersey number so that fans will be able to honor the trail-blazing Hall of Famer.

The ceremony, originally scheduled for Feb. 18, has been pushed back to Jan. 18, 2022 — 64 years to the day after O’Ree became the first Black player in NHL history.

The league requested the postponement in light of the ongoing pandemic, which would have prohibited fans from seeing the Bruins raise O’Ree’s No. 22 to the rafters.

“We hope and expect the change will enable us all to commemorate this moment in a way that matches the magnitude of Willie’s impact — in front of a TD Garden crowd packed with passionate Bruins fans, who can express their admiration and appreciation for Willie and create the meaningful moment he has earned throughout his incredible career,” the NHL said in a statement.

“Willie and the Bruins have graciously agreed to this change, and we all look forward to making this celebration even more robust together.”

O’Ree, 85, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the “builder” category in 2018.

He made his Bruins debut on Jan. 18, 1958 and appeared in 45 NHL games from 1958-61, tallying four goals and 10 assists.

(Field Level Media)

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