January 18, 2008

Willie O'Ree & A History Of Black Hockey

It was January 18th, 1958 that a rookie named Willie O'Ree made his debut in the National Hockey League. He was with the Boston Bruins for two games. In 1961, after two more years in the minors, O'Ree returned for a longer stay with the Bruins--41 games. O'Ree never played another game in the NHL. He only scored 4 goals and 10 assists.

This certainly doesn't seem particularly significant at first glance, but O'Ree was different from every other NHL player who had come before him during the league's first 50 years. He was the first black player in NHL history. And there wouldn't be another black player in the NHL for 15 years.

You can read Willie O'Ree's Biography here, but I also recommend reading my History Of Black Hockey. I wrote it 11 months ago, and I haven't updated it to include any new players from this season. But I try to take a look at every black hockey player in NHL history, some 50+ athletes.

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