Boston, MA - On November 12, 2018 in Toronto, Canada, the 2018 class will be inducted into the Professional Hockey Hall of Fame. The class is comprised of lesser known names like Jayna Hefford, a Canadian hockey player, and Alexander Yakushev, a Russian, as well as more well known names in the ice hockey realm like NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and players like Martin Brodeur and Martin St. Louis. However, one name in this 2018 class stands out above the rest and that man is Willie O’Ree.
O’Ree played only forty-five games in the NHL (which is not even a complete season), but he is absolutely deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame for hockey. O’Ree broke onto the scene in 1958 with the Boston Bruins when he officially broke the color barrier for professional ice hockey. Following his stint in Boston, he became an official ambassador of diversity for the NHL and their Hockey Is for Everyone program.
Because of his hard work and dedication off the rink, O’Ree is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the category of Builders. In a statement regarding the news, O’Ree acknowledged his mixed emotions as he was both laughing and crying before going onto proclaim, “I’m just so happy I’m alive to share this with my family and friends.”
P.K. Subban, a high caliber player for the Nashville Predators, was also quick to praise O’Ree once the announcement was made, claiming that he would not have been able to have the career that he did were it not for the achievements of O’Ree.
Members of the Boston Bruins organization also weighed in as CEO Charlie Jacobs congratulated O’Ree and said that the honor was one of the overdue variety.
Boston Bruins president Cam Neely also praised O’Ree for his sixty years of work both on and off the rink as he spread the game of hockey to vast corners of the world.
O’Ree’s enshrinement in hockey history is certainly a welcome moment, but it does not seem like it will be taking away from his ambassador duties as the eighty-two year old still manages to spend over three months of the year traveling and spreading the word about ice hockey.