Debuting the ice requires luck and courage.
On January 18, 1958, at the age of 22, Willie Eldon O’Ree, a 5-foot-10-inch Canadian left-wing forward, first donned a Boston Bruins uniform at the French Canadiens in Montreal, Eastern Canada. He played at the Montreal Forum at home, becoming the first black player to play in the NHL.
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There were only six teams in the NHL that year, namely the Bruins, French Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings; each team was all white. Now the NHL has expanded to 32 teams, 7 of which are in Canada at home. The number of black players who have played successively is still less than 80. The New York Rangers have dispatched 14 black players.
Ori was born in Canada on October 15, 1935, but he only played 45 games in the 1957-58 and 1960-61 seasons, and in the 1957-58 season, although he appeared twice, he was unsuccessful. In the 1960-61 season, he had 4 points, 10 assists and 2 winning shots.
Ori was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a “Builder” on November 12, 2018 in Toronto, Canada, and is the third black player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Gary Bruce Bettman, the current NHL CEO who took over on February 1, 1993, also enjoyed the honor for the same reason that night. At the time of the award, Ori said that he had been working hard to become a professional ice hockey player since he was 14 years old and was eager to play in the NHL;
On July 27, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed a proposal to issue the “Congressional Gold Medal” to Ori; on January 19, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 426 to 0 to award Ori The motion for the medal, which means that the legislative process is now complete, will be greeted by the President on another date to sign it into effect.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the United States Congress’ highest expression of gratitude and respect for the achievements and contributions of individuals, organizations, and activities. Past recipients include military leader George Washington, Chinese-American Veterans of World War II, Senator Bob Dole, professional golfer Nick Jack William Nicklaus and Arnold Daniel Palmer, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, etc.
Before Ori’s home team, the Bruins, played against the Carolina Hurricanes on the evening of January 18, Ori’s back No. 22 jersey was raised at home, making him the team’s 12th teammate who was fortunate enough to retire his jersey forever; The elderly Ou Rui was unable to make the trip under the epidemic, and only watched the ceremony through the live broadcast from San Diego, California.
Before that, Boston Mayor Wu Mi officially announced that the 18th was “Willie O’Ree Day”.