Hockey legend Willie O’Ree honored at Thunderbirds game


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hockey legend Willie O’Ree was honored before the Springfield Thunderbirds game Friday night.

O’Ree was the first African-American to play in the NHL in 1958 with the Boston Bruins. After retiring from the game in 1980, he became the director of the NHL’s diversity program in 1998.

Hockey legend Willie O’Ree back in Springfield

O’Ree is working with “Hockey Is For Everyone” in an effort to make hockey more racially diverse.

“With the ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’ program I travel around North America with these boys and girls,” O’Ree told 22News. “There are more inner city kids playing hockey today than ever before.”

O’Ree signed autographs and took pictures with Thunderbirds fans during their pre-game festivities.

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