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Bruins retire Willie O’Ree’s jersey number 22

On Jan. 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree made history as the NHL’s first Black player, donning number 22 for the Boston Bruins. Now no other Bruins player will wear number 22 again, as the team retired Willie O’Ree’s jersey on Tuesday (Jan. 18, 2022).

Bruins retire Willie O’Ree’s number 22 jersey

Here’s video of the Bruins retiring number 22 in honor of Willie O’Ree, 86, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s game due to COVID concerns.

While Willie O’Ree was not on hand as the Bruins retired jersey number 22, he shared his heartfelt thoughts on the ceremony:

If you want to learn more about the impact Willie O’Ree made, NBC’s Hockey Culture series includes some great insight. The NHL also put together a great video sharing 22 facts about Willie O’Ree:

Back in 2018, O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s fantastic to see O’Ree receive both honors.

Oh, and in another delightful moment, David Pastrnak and the Bruins presented Willie O’Ree with a special fedora:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.