When he played for the Boston Bruins against the Canadiens in Montreal on Jan. 18,
1958, Willie O’Ree became the first black person to play in the National Hockey League. O’Ree played on a line with Don McKenney and Jerry Toppazzini and helped the Bruins defeat the mighty Canadiens, 3-0.
Fifty years later, O’Ree is still involved in hockey as the Director of Youth Development for the NHL’s Diversity program. In the past 10 years, he has helped introduce more than 40,000 boys and girls of diverse backgrounds to hockey while stressing the importance of essential life skills, education and the core values of hockey: commitment, perseverance and teamwork.
The National Hockey League has prepared a terrific look at the trailblazing O’Ree and his significant contribution to the game. Their entire package appears below.
A study of the legend of Willie O’Ree: