The Boston Bruins will hold on to resign the quantity of spearheading Black hockey player Willie O’Ree until one year from now with the goal that they can raise his No. 22 standard to the rafters with fans in the structure.
The NHL said Thursday it asked the Bruins and O’Ree to defer the service until Jan. 18, 2022 – 64 years to the day that he turned into the association’s first Black player. It had been booked for next Thursday night before a game against the New Jersey Devils.
“We hope and expect the change will enable us all to commemorate this moment in a way that matches the magnitude of Willie’s impact in front of a TD Garden crowd packed with passionate Bruins fans, who can express their admiration and appreciation for Willie and create the meaningful moment he has earned throughout his incredible career,” the league said.
Just five of the group’s 31 groups have permitted fans in the structure so far this season, all at decreased limit. Five others have reported designs to permit restricted numbers soon, yet the Bruins are not among them. Four groups are on respite due to COVID-19 conventions.
A Canadian who was lawfully visually impaired in one eye in the wake of being struck by a puck in youngsters, O’Ree broke the NHL’s shading boundary when he took the ice for Boston against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 18, 1958. It was over 10 years after Jackie Robinson incorporated baseball, yet at the same time before the crosstown Red Sox handled their first Black player.
O’Ree, 85, played two games for the Bruins that season and 43 more in 1960-61 preceding he was exchanged to the Canadiens. He never made it back to the NHL. In all, he had four objectives and 10 helps.
He has been working for the NHL as a variety minister since 1998.