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Willie O'Ree, the First Black Hockey Player to Play in the NHL

Willie O'Ree, first Black NHL player

The NHL (National Hockey League) was founded in 1917 and is currently made up of 24 teams in the United States and 7 teams in Canada. However, it wasn't until 1957 that the league accepted their first Black player, Wilie O'Ree.

O'Ree originally came from New Brunswick. However, he spent his entire young life working his way up from the New Brunswick Amateur Hockey Association, through the New Brunswick Senior Hockey League and even later played for the Quebec Junior Hockey League.

Because of his decorated history, it was a surprise to many when it later came out that O'Ree "had lost 95 percent of the vision in his right eye," according to The Undefeated. Evidently, this fact was potentially career-shattering. However, O'Ree did not leave the rink without first becoming a legend that many young Black hockey players look up to, even to this day. Willie O'Ree is widely viewed as the "Jackie Robinson of Hockey" for his breaking of the color barrier in the NHL.