The City of Fredericton wants a pair of skates recognizing an NHL icon to be put in a place of honour in his hometown.
Bauer Hockey recently unveiled a pair of skates with a custom graphic celebrating the achievements and life of Willie O’Ree — the man who broke the NHL’s colour barrier.
Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien has tweeted that Bauer will be providing a pair of commemorative skates to the City of Fredericton.
They’ll be put on permanent display at Willie O’Ree Place.
The skate’s design features an image of O’Ree, his number 22 and phrases that include “diversity,” “equality” and “inclusion.”
The skates will be worn by several NHL players this week to mark Black History Month and were produced at the Bauer Innovation Centre in Blainville, Que.
Bauer says the graphic was designed and inspired by Terry Smith of Terry Smith Creations, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds, European-based forward J.T. Brown and Eustace King, an NHLPA agent.
He played two seasons with the Bruins, retiring from professional hockey in 1979.
Although O’Ree donned No. 18 and No. 25 during his time with the Bruins, he wore number 22 for the bulk of his games with the club.
O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2018 as part of the “Builder” category, which honours those who have made significant contributions to the sport.
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Since 1998, O’Ree has worked for the NHL as a diversity ambassador.
The City of Fredericton says it is planning other events to honour the life of O’Ree.
O’Ree’s number 22 was set to be retired this month by the Boston Bruins.
But COVID-19 has pushed the ceremony back to Jan. 18, 2022, or 64 years to the date that O’Ree made his debut on Jan. 18, 1958.
The hope is the delay will allow fans to attend the ceremony for the 12th player in franchise history to have his jersey retired.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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