Willie O’Ree from New Brunswick broke the colour barrier in the top league (via NHL.com)


For the first time, the NHL will be adapting the thrust of its February campaign of “hockey is for everyone” to a focus of celebrating Black History Month.

The league (NHL) and the players association (NHLPA) have joined to mark the new campaign focus with special websites have set up to highlight the achievements and contributions of black players throughout the years.

Shown here at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Hockey Hall of Fame member Willie O’Ree, left, long-time “diversity ambassador” with the NHL is happy with the move to celebrate Black History Month. Here he looks at a sculpture of Jackie Robinson who broke the colour barrier in major league baseball. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

Canadian Willie O’Ree a top player in the minor leagues, broke the top league colour barrier when he took to the ice for the Boston Bruins in a game against home team Montreal in 1958.

A special “museum” trailer is touring several cities to show African-American history and contribution to the game. (via NHL.com)

He later played 45 games in the NHL, but was asked to join the NHL again in 1966 this time as an ambassador for diversity.

He was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year to join two other black players, goalie Grant Fuhr of the Edmonton Oilers, the first black NHL player to be inducted, and Canadian women’s team captain Angela James.

Toronto-born P.K.Subban who was much loved defenceman with the Montreal Canadians before being traded to Nashville is among the many African-American players featured in special segments on the NHL website as part of their Black History Month campaign. (Jonathan Kozub-NHLI-Getty -via CBC Sports)

Now aged 82, the former player from Fredericton, New Brunswick is happy to see the league celebrate Black History Month.

The league plans to feature a number of past and present black stars in video presentations on its website all this month.

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Luc Simard – Director of Diversity and Relations. Radio-Canada


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