NHL’s First Black Player, Willie O’Ree Gets His Flowers With Canada Post Commemorative Stamp
Willie O’Ree, the first Black hockey player to appear in a National Hockey League game has been honored with a Canadian stamp
The first Black hockey player to appear in a National Hockey League (NHL) game was recently honored with his own commemorative Canadian stamp.
According to NHL.com, O’Ree, who debuted with the Boston Bruins in 1958 as the first Black player in league history, is honored by Canada Post with a postage stamp. The stamp was revealed on Oct. 28 at a brunch reception, a day before the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers met for the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Willie O’Ree’s life and legacy have been honored by Canada Post with a commemorative stamp. pic.twitter.com/vHnR7Rspgf
— NHL (@NHL) October 30, 2023
O’Ree, who made his league debut on Jan. 18, 1958, when the Bruins went up against the Montreal Canadiens, said, “Being honored with a Canada Post commemorative stamp is such a special moment for me and my family. Our hope is that this stamp will encourage current and future generations of Canadians to reimagine what is possible, both on and off the ice.”
You can purchase the commemorative stamp at post offices in Canada and online at store.canadapost.ca. Canada Post has printed 130,000 booklets and 780,000 individual stamps.
“For more than two decades, Willie O’Ree has served as the NHL’s diversity ambassador, traveling across North America sharing his story and experiences as the NHL’s first Black player,” Jeff Scott, NHL vice president of Hockey Development and Industry Growth, said in a written statement. “Commemorating Willie’s legacy on a stamp is a true distinction of honor that pays tribute to his tireless service promoting messages of inclusion, dedication, and confidence within the game of hockey, and we cannot think of a more deserving recipient.”
A recent picture of O’Ree wearing his signature fedora with a photo of him playing hockey in 1960 in the Bruins uniform adorns the stamp.
Being blind in one eye didn’t stop O’Ree from playing hockey. He played in 45 NHL games over two seasons (1957-58, 1960-61) with the Bruins. He then played in the minor leagues until 1979.
In 2018, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category for his off-ice contributions. He helped establish 39 grassroots hockey programs in North America as part of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative.
During a ceremony at TD Garden, his No. 22 hockey jersey was retired by the Bruins last year on Jan. 18, 2022. Less than two weeks later, on Jan. 31, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law to award O’Ree the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress.