The Boston Bruins will retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 jersey on Feb. 18, the club announced Tuesday.
“On behalf of the Boston Bruins organization I would like to congratulate Willie O’Ree as well as his wife, Deljeet, and his daughter, Chandra, on having his number retired in the TD Garden rafters,” Bruins President Cam Neely said via a release.
“Willie’s contributions to the game of hockey transcend on-ice accomplishments and have opened countless doors for players who have come after him. He is without question deserving of this honour.”
O’Ree made history when he first stepped onto NHL ice on Jan. 18, 1958, becoming the first Black player to skate in the big leagues. He’ll be the 12th player to have his jersey retired by the Bruins franchise.
“Throughout the history of the National Hockey League, there have been very few individuals that have had such a profound impact on the league and its culture than Willie O’Ree,” Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs said via a release. “After breaking the colour barrier as a Boston Bruin in 1958 and eventually retiring from professional hockey in 1979, Willie became the ultimate ambassador for improving diversity and inclusion within the game of hockey.
“The entire hockey world is forever indebted to Willie for all that he has done, and continues to do, for the sport. We are incredibly proud to retire Willie’s number and cement his legacy as one of Boston’s greatest athletes.”