Willie O'Ree

Willie O'Ree
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2018 (builder)
O'Ree in 2019
Born (1935-10-15) October 15, 1935 (age 85)
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 175 lb (79 kg; 12 st 7 lb)
Position Winger
Shot Left
Played for Boston Bruins
Playing career 1958–1979

Willie Eldon O'Ree, CM ONB (born October 15, 1935) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, best known for being the first black player in the National Hockey League (NHL). O'Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins. O'Ree is referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey" for breaking the black colour barrier in the sport,[1] and has stated publicly that he had met Jackie Robinson when he was younger. [2][3] He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2018.

Also in 2018, the NHL instituted the annual Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award[4] in his honour, to "recognize the individual who has worked to make a positive impact on his or her community, culture or society to make people better through hockey."

  1. ^ Dupont, Kevin Paul (December 11, 2011). "Playing days at end, Grier looks for new goals". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  2. ^ Steve Murphy, interviewer with CTV News in Halifax, NS (2007). Willie O'Ree – First Black NHL Player (YouTube). heathernocs. Event occurs at 4:31. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  3. ^ Russo, Eric (January 17, 2018). "O'Ree A Vital Part of Hockey History". nhl.com/bruins. National Hockey League. Retrieved January 19, 2018. Willie O'Ree first met Jackie Robinson when he was just 14 years old...The New Brunswick native was in New York for a trip honoring his youth baseball team and managed to carve out a few minutes to chat with the legend by the dugout during a visit to Ebbets Field. O'Ree made sure to inform Robinson that in addition to his baseball accomplishments, he was also a hockey player...Robinson was a bit surprised, not realizing that any black kids played hockey. It was an interaction that proved to be a memorable one...Some 13 years later during an NAACP luncheon in Los Angeles, the two once again crossed paths. Following an introduction, Robinson – the first black player in Major League Baseball history – quickly realized that it was not their first encounter..."'Willie O'Ree – aren't you the young fella I met in Brooklyn?" Robinson asked...It was a moment that O'Ree cherishes to this day – and one he felt important to share during a celebration marking the 60th Anniversary of his breaking the NHL's color barrier.
  4. ^ https://www.nhl.com/fans/willie-oree-community-hero-award