BOSTON -- Hockey pioneer Willie O'Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday, the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL's color barrier.
At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018, to be "Willie O'Ree Day". O'Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.
Walsh called O'Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better, and he thanked O'Ree for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O'Ree Rink.
A native of Canada, O'Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.
For the past two decades, O'Ree has served as the NHL's diversity ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.