LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 19, 2019
Online: 174

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Happy 50th!

Willie O'Ree
Our pal Willie

Today is the 50th anniversary of Willie O' Ree breaking the NHL's color barrier. On January 18, 1958, O'Ree skated for the Boston Bruins in a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens, making hockey history and inspiring generations of players and fans alike.

I've told this story many times before, but way back in the day we named the trophy in our fantasy hockey league after Willie. Well, I guess Willie heard about it somehow, and he was kind enough to send us an autographed picture. It was extremely kind of him, and it remains one of the best moments in my hockey writing career. But it just shows you what a nice guy Willie is. And he continues to prove his character as the head of the NHL's Diversity Program, helping introduce thousands of youngsters to the grand game of hockey.

Give the NHL credit, it's doing a great job of honoring our pal Willie. The Boston Bruins will pay tribute to him before their game with the New York Rangers tomorrow night, and the league will hold a special luncheon in Willie's honor during All-Star weekend. Willie's hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick, is also getting in on the act, naming a hockey rink in his honor.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to write a proper tribute to Willie, but I have collected a bunch of links to help commemorate the occasion. We'll also be running his LCS logo all day today.

I hope everyone will take the opportunity to learn more about Willie O'Ree, a wonderful hockey ambassador and an all-around good guy.

Willie O'Ree Press Kit (PDF File)
The NHL was kind enough to put together this swell media package about Willie. It even includes copies of his invitation letter to Boston's training camp and the lineup sheet from his first NHL game.

Willie O'Ree 50th Anniversary has a great section dedicated to Willie. You can even watch game action of Willie's days with the Bruins and listen to post-game interviews. It's good stuff. Give it a whirl.

O'Ree Had Vision as NHL Pioneer
Ross McKeon of Yahoo Sports examines Willie's career, which was made all the more remarkable considering the speedy winger was 95% blind in his right eye.

O'Ree Loves His New Place
Bill Hunt of Fredericton's Daily Gleaner writes about the new ice rink named in Willie's honor

An Honour for Bettman
Bill Hunt also has an article about Gary Bettman attending the ceremonies in Fredericton.

O'Ree Earns His 'Place' in Hockey Lore Tonight
Mr. Hunt notches the hat trick, penning another article on the preparations around "Willie O'Ree Week" in Fredericton.

O'Ree a Hockey Pioneer's John McGourty writes about Willie overcoming his eye problem to emerge as one of the minor leagues' most prolific scorers.

Celebrating Willie O'Ree
McGourty returns with more on Willie's career.

O'Ree's First Goal a Beauty
McGourty again, this time with tales of Willie's first NHL goal.

O'Ree Still Blazing Way in NHL 50 Years Later
USA Today's Kevin Allen on Willie's pioneering spirit.

Snoop Dogg's Father Hood
On the January 27th episode of the E! reality show, Snoop hangs out with Willie at an Anaheim Ducks game.

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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