Bruins retire Willie O'Ree's number

Rich Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Exactly 64 years after Willie O'Ree became the NHL's first Black player, the Boston Bruins raised the trailblazer's No. 22 to the rafters.

The 86-year-old couldn't attend the ceremony but expressed his gratitude in a taped speech that aired before the banner-raising.

The Bruins all donned jerseys adorned with the No. 22 during warmups.

The Carolina Hurricanes joined their opponents in paying tribute to O'Ree before the contest.

The New York Islanders also recognized O'Ree before their matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The former forward's groundbreaking achievement was even more remarkable considering he lost 95% of sight in his right eye after being hit by an errant puck two seasons before he got his NHL call.

The league named O'Ree its director of youth development and ambassador for NHL diversity in 1998. In 2018, it also created the Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award, which recognizes an individual who made a positive impact on their community, culture, or society through hockey every year.

The Hurricanes won Tuesday's game 7-1.

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Bruins retire Willie O'Ree's number
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