Bruins To Retire Willie O'Ree's Number

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Boston Bruins will raise Willie O'Ree's number to the rafters at the TD Garden ahead of their game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The jersey retirement ceremony will honor O'Ree, who broke the NHL's color barrier when he became the first Black player to ever play in an NHL game back in 1958. The day of the ceremony marks the 64 year anniversary of his NHL debut.

O'Ree joined the Bruins in 1958 from the Canadian junior league in the 1957-58 season. He then spent two years in the minors before returning to the Bruins for the 1960-61 season.

In his first, and only, full season in the NHL, O'Ree played 45 games for the Bruins and netted four goals along with 10 assists. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1961 but did not feature at the NHL level again.

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O'Ree went on to become an ambassador for the sport and was named the league's diversity ambassador in 1998. In this role, he traveled the country to help grow the game and participated in Hockey is for Everyone initiatives.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 as a part of the "Builder" category, which the NHL defines as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general."

O'Ree is the 12th Bruins player to have his jersey retired. The jersey retirement ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. before the game Tuesday. O'Ree will be attending the event virtually from his home in San Diego due to COVID concerns.

WBZ's Jim MacKay (@JimMacKayOnAir) reports.

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