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March 24, 2019
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
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.