It doesn’t get the attention afforded Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut but Wednesday marked the 60th anniversary of the night Willie O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier. Called up from the minors to replace an injured player, O’Ree took the ice for the Boston Bruins in Montreal on January 17, 1958.
Upper Deck has created a special card to commemorate the moment and fans attending Wednesday night’s game with the Canadiens received one. More will be given to Upper Deck dealers in the Boston area.
O’Ree suited up for only two games in 1958 but returned to the Bruins a few years later, seeing action in 43 games and scoring four goals. He played 21 seasons of professional hockey, winning a pair of scoring titles in the Western Hockey League. Active in the game following his retirement at age 43, he has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador since 1998.
Now 82, he was on hand Wednesday to drop the puck in ceremonies honoring him. The Bruins wore special patches commemorating the 60th anniversary of his NHL debut.
O’Ree never had a trading card during his brief time in the NHL but he’s been featured in a few modern era hockey history sets. You can see a few of them here.