Willie O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958. Sixty-four years later, O’Ree will get an honor that only 11 other players in the Bruins’ 98-year history have received. O’Ree will have his number 22 retired forever.
The Capitals will honor O’Ree’s honor from afar. Every player on the Capitals will wear special decals on the back of their helmets featuring O’Ree’s number 22.
“On the night his No. 22 is retired by the Bruins, we join the entire NHL in honoring Willie O’Ree for his immeasurable contributions to the game of hockey,” the Capitals wrote on their Twitter account.
O’Ree became the first Black player to play an NHL game when he suited up for the Bruins on January 18, 1958, against the Montreal Canadiens. O’Ree, who was legally blind in one eye, played 45 games total for the Bruins, ending his NHL career with four goals and 10 assists.
According to the Bruins, players will all wear special patches on their jersey during warmups and the TD Garden rink will feature several new No. 22 decals around the rink.
Prior to the ceremony, players will take the ice for warm-ups in special-edition jerseys with commemorative Willie O’Ree patches. The ice will feature newly-installed No. 22 decals behind each team’s net, which will remain on display for three home games: tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, January 20 against the Washington Capitals and January 22 against the Winnipeg Jets.
The official ceremony will begin at 7 p.m., starting with a special video celebrating O’Ree with voices from around the NHL and the hockey community. Following the video, O’Ree will deliver his keynote remarks virtually from his family’s home in San Diego. To conclude the ceremony, Bruins alumni Anson Carter and SCORE Boston representatives Dallas Jackson, Toryn Jackson, Austin Nelson and
The Bruins organization also surprised O’Ree with several nice gifts ahead of his big night.
"You've inspired so many…on and off the ice…we're so happy and proud for you."
On Monday, our team gathered to congratulate Willie O'Ree and present him with a few surprises in honor of his No. 22 heading to the TD Garden rafters.#NHLBruins | #Willie22 pic.twitter.com/qALW0Dtwjz
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 18, 2022
The Bruins and Hurricanes play at 7 PM tonight. Puck drop will be at 7:20 after the pregame ceremony concludes.
Tonight my idol Willie O’Ree’s number 22 will be hung from the rafters (Finally). I can’t stress how much Mr O’Ree has meant to me and millions of other BIPOC kids who love the game of hockey… Congratulations MR O’Ree
— Wayne Simmonds (@Simmonds17) January 18, 2022
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