The Boston Bruins organization brought out their *best ahead of January 18th’s game at TD Garden in honor of Willie O’Ree.
They retired his No. 22 jersey number high into the rafters amidst raucous applause from fans, players, management and ownership alike (*they saved their worst for the actual game against Carolina, unfortunately).
Fortunately, as I wrote about here on the Black N’ Gold Hockey Blog, O’Ree’s storied career and impact on the game, particularly his post-playing years as the NHL’s Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador after becoming the first black player to skate in a professional game, deserved such a momentous occasion like this one.
And it wasn’t just the crowd in attendance who took notice. We’ve collected “the best of the best” in honor of O’Ree when it comes to messages, posts and tributes to his character and his legacy — all shared before, during and after his historic night in Boston.
Boston Bruins Alumni
Ray Bourque (No. 77) shared his congratulations and “welcome to the club” to O’Ree by adding on to an impressive post by the official @NHLBruins Twitter account that featured the likes of Terry O’Reilly (No. 24), Rick Middleton (No. 16), Phil Esposito (No. 7), Johnny Bucyk (No. 9) and Cam Neely (No. 8) all tipping their cap to No. 22 in heartfelt video clips!
The Hockey Hall of Fame
Through a series of tweets and re-posted remembrances, the HHOF shared their love for O’Ree in fine fashion, recounting not only his career on the ice, but all the game-changing and indeed life-saving actions he took off the ice in hockey communities across the U.S. and Canada to make a difference for diverse youth players.
NHL Players & Teams
From current to retired players, from divisional rivals to playoff opponents, from team broadcasters to team owners, the entire hockey community posted their love and thanks to O’Ree following his jersey retirement ceremony. Here are some of the few that shone brightly, just like No. 22.
The United States of America & Canada
That’s right, the U.S. Congress and Canadian Government spotlighted O’Ree and all he’s done for his community, his country (he’s from Fredericton in New Brunswick, CAN) and his favorite game. Undoubtedly, these messages and posts will soon become some of his favorites to reflect back on, especially the recently received Congressional Gold Medal!
Local, National & Global News Stations
Willie O’Ree’s “reach” on the game of hockey far exceeded the streets and rinks of Boston. Which is why dozens of news stations from around his home of San Diego to New England to all over the country and world highlighted his jersey retirement ceremony, career and life accomplishments.
Feel free to share your favorite Willie O’Ree moments, milestones and memories in the comments below and keep checking back with the Black N’Gold Hockey Blog for more historical articles on Boston Bruins players, coaches and alumni!