Rangers assistant coach and former Boston Bruins great Terry O'Reilly will be honored by the Bruins by having his number retired in a pre-game ceremony at the club's home opener this coming season, it was announced today. The date of that game will be determined when the National Hockey League finalizes the 2002-03 schedule. No player has worn the number 24 since O'Reilly retired as a player at the conclusion of the 1984-85 season.
O'Reilly will become the ninth Bruin so honored, joining Eddie Shore (#2), Lionel Hitchman (#3), Bobby Orr (#4), Aubrey "Dit" Clapper (#5), Phil Esposito (#7), John Bucyk (#9), Milt Schmidt (#15) and Ray Bourque (#77).
"This is an unbelievable honor that I never expected," said O'Reilly. "I'm a little bit intimidated when I look up at the numbers that have been raised and the caliber of players that they represent. I am honored to join them."
A former teammate of O'Reilly once said that "It's hard to come back to the bench and look Terry O'Reilly in the eye if you haven't given your all", and that spirit is what endeared O'Reilly to legions of Bruins fans. He was that rare player who gave everything that he had on every single shift. Most of his goals weren't pretty and most of his fights were less so, but each goal and each battle came at a time when his teammates and fans needed a lift and the inspiration that he was always there to provide.
O'Reilly, along with Jim Schoenfeld, was named an assistant coach with the Rangers on June 12.