BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are postponing the jersey retirement of Willie O’Ree, in order to commemorate the exact anniversary of his NHL debut.
The NHL announced on Thursday that instead of the celebration planned in an empty TD Garden on Feb. 18 before a game against the New Jersey Devils, the celebration will take place next January.READ MORE: 800 Nurses At Saint Vincent Hospital In Worcester Go On Strike
“After consultation with Willie and the Bruins, we have respectfully asked that the banner-raising be postponed until January 18, 2022 — 64 years to the date that Willie became the first Black player in NHL history,” the NHL said. “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.”READ MORE: Harry And Meghan Detail Royal Struggles, From Discussions Of Baby's Skin Tone To Suicidal Thoughts
The NHL noted that O’Ree and the Bruins “graciously agreed” to the change of schedule.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
O’Ree, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, broke the NHL’s color barrier when he became the first Black player to skate in an NHL game for the Bruins in 1958. The Bruins announced in early January that the team would be honoring O’Ree by retiring his jersey number 22 in the rafters at the TD Garden, with the plans to have O’Ree back for a celebration in front of a sold-out crowd. The change in scheduling merely means that the two celebrations will be condensed into one.