RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN – The Carolina Hurricanes will be a part of history tonight when the Canes battle the Boston Bruins at TD Garden Arena.
The Bruins will retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 in a special ceremony before the start of the contest. O’Ree broke the NHL color barrier when he suited up for the Bruins on January 18, 1958.
“Anytime you get the chance to celebrate a great achievement, to celebrate this I think is great,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “It will be a good memory for him obviously is the number one thing but also for a lot of other people.”
O’Ree skated in just 45 career NHL games but by becoming the first black player he set the table for others to follow.
“It’s a big moment for our league, I know how much he does for growing the game,” said Hurricanes forward Vincent Trochek. “For Boston to retire his jersey is honorable.”
For nearly two and a half decades O’Ree has worked for the NHL as a diversity ambassador, working to grow minority participation in the sport.
“He was in Raleigh many, many years ago and I can’t remember how long ago and he was doing youth hockey stuff,” Brind’Amour remembered. “I remember seeing him at the Cary Ice House I think it was, he was just doing his thing, teaching kids and helping.”
The ceremony will take place at 7: p.m. prior to the start of the contest.