January 18th, 2010 by

Today in NHL, Bruins’ history: Willie O’Ree

On this day, 53 years ago, the Boston Bruins made history in Montreal. It wasn’t the 3-0 victory over the Canadiens that forever changed the game, but the player who took the ice. On January 18, 1958, 23-year-old Willie O’Ree became the first ever black player in the NHL as he skated at forward for the Black and Gold.

O’Ree dressed in just two games for Boston during that 1957-58 history-making season before making his NHL return during the 1960-61 season. A life-long minor league player, O’Ree appeared in 45 NHL games over two season – all with Boston – and tallied 4-10-14 totals.

Although there were no other black players in the NHL until 16 years later [1974], O’Ree left his legacy and paved the way for future black players in the league today.

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