The hockey world changed forever on January 18th, 1958. That was the day Boston Bruin winger Willie O'Ree made his NHL debut. And almost no one reported it. Willie Eldon O'Ree was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada on October 15, 1935. At the time of his birth there was only one other black family living in Fredericton. That's right. What makes O'Ree so unique is he was the first African- Canadian/American to play in the NHL.
It is a milestone that is still not widely recognized. There are many hockey fans today who have never heard of Willie. But he encountered the same type of racism that Jackie Robinson did more than a decade earlier. In fact O'Ree was still dealing with racist hate letters 50 years after his first NHL game.
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