Willie O’Ree’s Wild Ride into Hockey History
Sports: Hockey Hall of Fame
Willie O’Ree smashed the National Hockey League’s colour barrier when he was recruited by the Boston Bruins, but the newly inducted Hall-of-Famer gave a young hockey fan from the ‘burbs a big city thrill.
By Rod Mickleburgh
Every now and then, the National Hockey League, even under Gary Bettman, does the right thing. So it was with the recent selection of Willie O’Ree to the Hockey Hall of Fame. O’Ree, 82, was chosen under the hallowed institution’s “builder category,” as the first black to lace ‘em up in the NHL and a long-time ambassador for youth and hockey diversity. In recent years, the honours have piled up for the likeable O’Ree. Banners raised, arenas named, ceremonies, inductions to other, more local halls of fame, and in 2008, the Order of Canada. O’Ree has taken it all in stride, evincing little bitterness over the setbacks and racist taunting he experienced at times during his long hockey career, which lasted until he ...