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Willie O’Ree

Born:October 15, 1935Draft:Undrafted
Hometown:Fredericton, New BrunswickPosition:Winger
Known For:First Black NHL PlayerShoots:Left
National Team:N/ACurrent Team:

Willie Eldon O’Ree, CM ONB (born October 15, 1935) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, best known for being the first black player in the National Hockey League (NHL). O’Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins. O’Ree is referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of ice hockey” for breaking the black color barrier in the sport, a decade after Larry Kwong broke the overall color barrier in the National Hockey League, and has stated publicly that he had met Jackie Robinson when he was younger. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2018.

Also in 2018, the NHL instituted the annual Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in his honour, to “recognize the individual who has worked to make a positive impact on his or her community, culture or society to make people better through hockey.”

Willie O'Ree
NEW YORK, NY – 1961: Willie O’Ree #25 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck as Camille Henry #21 of the New York Rangers looks defend during their NHL game circa 1961 at the Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Willie O’Ree Statistics

Deeper Dive


  • WHL Second All-Star Team (1969)
  • New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame (1984)
  • Lester Patrick Trophy (2003)
  • Order of New Brunswick (2005)
  • Order of Canada (2008)
  • Hockey Hall of Fame (2018)
  • Canada Sports Hall of Fame (2021)