Willie O'Ree, the NHL's first Black player, to receive Congressional Gold Medal

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Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s very first Black gamer, is having rather the year. On Monday, less than a month after the Bruins retired his No. 22 jersey at TD Garden, President Joe Biden signed the Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal act. 

The expense will provide O’Ree a Congressional Gold Medal, the U.S. Congress’ greatest honor, for his contributions to “hockey, inclusion and recreational opportunity.” O’Ree is the very first gamer in NHL history to get the honor. 

The expense all travelled through the House on Jan. 19, and the Senate did the same on July 27. It’s uncertain when O’Ree will declare his award, however.  

“This esteemed honor is befitting Willie O’Ree, a pioneer whose impact on hockey has been groundbreaking, profound and enduring,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated in a declaration Tuesday. “A true pioneer and trailblazer, O’Ree can add another achievement to his list of accolades: the first hockey player to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in its nearly 250-year history. Congratulations, Willie, and well deserved.”

O’Ree, 86, broke the NHL’s color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958, when he skated for the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens. He played just one more video game for Boston that season, however in 1960-61 he played an extra 43. O’Ree ended his NHL profession with 4 objectives and 10 helps. 

Since 1998, O’Ree has actually acted as the NHL’s variety ambassador and played a critical function in developing the league’s Hockey is for Everyone effort. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a home builder in 2018. 

O’Ree will quickly include a Congressional Gold Medal to his currently remarkable resume. 

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