January 18 - Willie O'Ree breaks the NHL's colour barrier

There are several milestone days in the NHL's history, and January 18th, 1958 is certainly one of them. On this day, New Brunswick native Willie O'Ree became the first black player to play in an NHL game. The African-Canadian played right wing for the Boston Bruins and played his first career game against the Montreal Canadiens.

O'Ree is regarded as the Jackie Robinson of hockey, due to breaking the colour barrier in the sport. The Bruins Right Winger has left a lasting impact on the NHL, as there are currently more African-American and Canadian players than ever before. Calgary Flames Captain and two time Olympic Gold Medalist Jarome Iginla cites O'Ree as one of his idols and credits him for allowing players like Iginla to be given the opportunity to become superstars in the NHL.

O'Ree would play a total of 45 games in the NHL, all for the Boston Bruins. In 2010 he received the Order of Canada, which is the highest civilian award given to a Canadian citizen.


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