Boston Bruins To Retire Jersey of NHL’s First Black Player Willie O’Ree

In Summary

O'Ree's jersey will be retired exactly 63 years after he played his first game for the National Hockey League.  

Willie O’Ree, the National Hockey League’s first Black player, is set to have his jersey retired by his former team the Boston Bruins.  

O’Ree’s No. 22 jersey will be retired on Jan. 18, 2022, before the team’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. He will be the 12th player in the Bruins franchise history to have his jersey retired. 

RELATED: National Hockey League’s First Black Player Set to Receive Congressional Gold Medal  

In Feb. 2021, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and Republican Senator Tim Scott introduced legislation to award O’Ree the Congressional Gold Medal, BNC previously reported.  

RELATED: Tennessee State University Considering Ice Hockey Programs  

O’Ree is known to some as the “Jackie Robinson of hockey” for his barrier-breaking entry into the sport. When he joined the league in 1958, he was blind in one eye, but he persevered and played in more than 40 games until 1961.  

Decades later, in 1998, he became the first diversity ambassador for the National Hockey League. Since then, he devoted his time to make sure the sport is accessible to all with his Hockey is for Everyone program. 

RELATED: Kelsey Koelzer Becomes First Black Ice Hockey Coach in NCAA History  

The 2019 documentary Willie tells the story of his life, his historic feat as the league’s first Black player, and his contributions to making hockey more inclusive for Black people.   

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