Words by: Rashad Grove
When you think of the National Hockey League, you don’t really think about Black people. For the most part, Black people are not the biggest hockey fans. But there are some Black players who have excelled in Hockey and must receive their props. Willie O’Ree is such a player.
Willie O’Ree might not be a household name, but his moniker as “The Jackie Robinson of hockey” demands that we honor and respect the historical significance of his accomplishments.
O’Ree was inducted into the NHL Hall Of Fame last night in Toronto. The 83-year-old Canadian made his professional hockey debut on Jan. 18, 1958 for the Boston O’Ree was inducted under the “Builders” hall of fame category and gave a 6-minute speech expressing his gratitude for the honor Bruins. Hit with a puck early in his career, O’Ree played most of his career being blind in one eye.
The NHL has had an interesting past with African Americans. As noted on social media, “The NHL Hall of Fame was established in 1943. It took 15 years for a Black person to even play in the NHL and 75 years for them to be in the Hall of Fame.”
O’Ree is currently the National Hockey League’s Director of Youth Development and ambassador for NHL Diversity, a position he has held since January 1998.