The NHL finally made the right decision and inducted Boston Bruins legend Willie O’Ree to the Hall of Fame.
O’Ree played in only 45 games and scored 4 goals and 10 assists. These numbers don’t usually get you in the hall of fame but O’Ree was a whole lot more than a stat sheet. O’Ree’s journey to the NHL is interesting as well. He lied to teams and hid that he was blind in one eye. Facing all odds he made it into the NHL.
After his playing career O’Ree became an ambassador for the game. He has been a diversity ambassador for the NHL since 1998 primarily focusing on the league’s Hockey is for Everyone campaign.
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The NHL and the Bruins celebrated O’Ree this season as it was the 60th anniversary of him breaking the color barrier. The NHL now has an award in honor of O’Ree called the Willie O’Ree Community Hero award which was given out for the first time this year.
Cam Neely is glad that O’Ree will forever be representing the Bruins in the hall of fame.
“Willie is a pioneer and tremendous ambassador for the game of hockey, and on behalf of the Bruins organization I would like to congratulate Willie and his family on today’s announcement that he will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Bruins President Cam Neely. “The courage he showed 60 years ago when he broke the league’s color barrier while wearing a Bruins sweater is an inspiration, and his work today continues to grow the game of hockey and spread the message that hockey is for everyone.”
It is still stunning that it has taken the NHL this long to induct O’Ree into the hall of fame. 60 years to induct hockey’s Jackie Robinson seems way too long. It took the MLB less than 10 years to induct Robinson.
O’Ree is being inducted into the hall of fame as a builder. It’s a shame that O’Ree has to share the spotlight with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who was also inducted as a builder.
O’Ree is an outstanding man who has done so much to grow the game of hockey. He works in communities and is such a kind soul. I’m glad the NHL finally made the right decision and inducted O’Ree into the Hockey Hall of Fame.