Event honoring former NHL hockey player Willie O’Ree postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions

An event honoring former NHL hockey player Willie O’Ree has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The City of Fredericton had planned to hold a retirement ceremony and flag raising on Jan. 18, also known as Willie O’Ree Day.

However, when New Brunswick announced the move to Level 3 of its COVID-19 winter plan, the city was forced to postpone to a later date when public gatherings will be permitted again.

“While we are very disappointed with the postponement of Willie O’Ree Day events, it is important that the City of Fredericton follow the guidelines set out by public health,” said Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers.

“Mr. O’Ree deserves a full audience for his accomplishments and I look forward to celebrating with my fellow Frederictonians when that day comes.

In 1958, O’Ree became the first black to play in the NHL, breaking the league’s color barrier in his debut for the Boston Bruins.

Now, the team will retire O’Ree’s number 22 jersey and honor his Hockey Hall of Fame career at 8 p.m. AT on Tuesday, Jan. 18, before their game against the Carolina Hurricanes. O’Ree plans to participate virtually from his home in San Diego.

O’Ree’s is the 12th number the Boston Bruins have retired in franchise history, which dates back to 1924.

Catherine J. Martinez