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Willie O'Ree, the first Black player in NHL history, to have his no. 22 retired by Bruins

O'Ree will have his number retired by the Boston Bruins on Jan. 18, 2022, which will be exactly 64 years after he broke the NHL color barrier.
Credit: Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports
Former Boston Bruins player Willie O'Ree waves to the crowd before the game against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden in Boston on Jan. 17, 2018

BOSTON — Willie O'Ree made history when he took the ice for the first time as a Boston Bruin. On Jan. 18, 1958, he became the first Black player in National Hockey League (NHL) history.

64 years later, on Jan. 18, 2022, O'Ree's no. 22 will be retired and lifted to the rafters inside the famed Boston Garden, joining Bruins legends Ray Bourke, Bobby Orr, and others.

O'Ree, a New Brunswick native, will be the 12th player in franchise history to see his jersey retired by Boston. According to an NHL release, O'Ree and the Bruins agreed to postpone the banner-raising to next season in hopes of having a packed TD Garden present for the ceremony.

In 45 games in the NHL, O'Ree scored four goals and added ten assists. Since leaving the league, O'Ree continues to be an ambassador for the game and has inspired other Black players to play hockey at the professional level.

Every team in the NHL is wearing helmet decals honoring O'Ree during the month of February as part of the league's celebration of Black History Month.

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