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Willie O'Ree

  • O'Ree Joins the OHA

    O'Ree Joins the OHA
    On this date, Willie O'Ree joined the Ontario Hockey League (OHA). He played for the Kitchener Canucks and many believed this is as far as he would go in his hockey career, even himself at some points.
  • O'Ree Goes Blind

    O'Ree Goes Blind
    During the 1955-1956 season with the Kitchener Canucks, O'Ree was hit with an errant puck during practice resulting in him being 95% blind in his right eye. He would then keep it a secret from both team staff and family in order to continue his career
  • O'Ree Makes His NHL Debut

    O'Ree Makes His NHL Debut
    On January 18, 1958 the Boston Bruins call up O'ree to substitute an injured player making O'ree the first African American to play in the NHL. O'Ree played his first game against Bruins rivals the Montreal Canadiens. He received many racist remarks, cheap shots and fights. The Bruins and their fan base were very supportive of him. Many people including O'Ree were surprised as they believed his eye injury along with his race would prevent him from living out his dreams of being an NHL player.
  • O'Ree Calls It A Career

    O'Ree Calls It A Career
    In 1979, Willie O'Ree entered retirement and stepped away from the game he loved, (from the playing side at least). From his first game in 1958 to his retirement in 1979, O'Ree scored four goals and 14 points in 43 games. He is traded to Montreal, but never plays for the Canadiens. Instead, he spends most of the next 13 seasons in the Western Hockey League with Los Angeles and San Diego before retiring.
  • USA Hockey Hires O'Ree

    USA Hockey Hires O'Ree
    After his playing career, USA Hockey hired Willie O'Ree to be the director of their diversity program. To this day, O'Ree is still the diversity director and has gone to tremendous lengths to grow the game of hockey. He is a true ambassador of the sport.
  • O'Ree Is Inducted into HHOF

    O'Ree Is Inducted into HHOF
    On November 12, 2018, O'Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as an ambassador for the game.
  • Boston Bruins Retire O'Ree's Number

    Boston Bruins Retire O'Ree's Number
    On January 18, 2022, the Boston Bruins retired Willie O'Ree's number 22 on the same day he made his NHL debut for the Bruins in 1958. For the rest of Bruins history, no player will ever wear 22 again. O'Ree joins Bruins greats in the rafters such as Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, and Eddie Shore, just to name a few.