Willie O'Ree: The Jackie Robinson of Hockey
Wed, 8 Feb 2012|
Derrick Gunn tells the story of the first black player to ever play in the NHL. 2/8/12
He was born in north of the US border and present -- New Brunswick in October of 1935. Wally re learn to skate at an early age hockey was one -- nine sports -- played during this new. And by the time he was a teenager he knew we want to be professional hockey player. I have hockey in my mind I dreamed about hockey I -- hockey I slept hockey and the thing was when I set my goal that I wanted to play professional hockey. That's the goal that I set for myself and I work toward that goal. At the age of seventy -- home with the -- the play of the juniors in their his pro hockey career began. Woody was nineteen during a game a slap shot ricocheted and hit him in his right now in left him blinded in that I. A doctor told he'd never play hockey again. Willing kept -- secret to themselves and kept on play. And -- a January 18 1958. The unexpected happens what Hillary got the call from the Boston Bruins the first black player ever to skate in the National Hockey League. My goal is to play professional hockey and in my my other goal was. Hopefully to get the opportunity to play in the NHL and the thing was like I wanted to play as hard as I could and and represent the hockey team that I was playing four to the best of my ability. Between 1958 in 1961. -- very little fanfare. Would play 45 games in Boston he was the Jackie Robinson. I never call myself the Jackie Robinson -- hockey when I was were called back up in 1966 he won immediately though there's so go to read the Jackie Robinson not so. Now are stuck with me all these years and I'm very not only athletes but I'm I'm very honored to be in the same category -- runs. And -- hockey travels one thing you learn very quickly was racism in Canada was nothing like racism in America that was some prejudice but nothing compared to. When I came to the states and as opposed to some of these races and then that affected the racial remark there that. That was directed toward me you know I was -- -- I never -- one time operation she -- her -- tonight -- because guys hear me but I -- prospect. If I had a -- because of racers their side of wouldn't -- -- all the time. Through the decades these what's the game evolve into what it has become today it even though there's still less than two dozen African American players. NHL he's still use that as progress. These days as the director of youth hockey for the NHL he travels the country speaking the programs like the Ed Snider youth hockey foundation. What was methods not only the kids here but other youth hockey programs he speaks to row the country it's also one we live by what he played the day. If you think you can you care if you think you can't you're right. If you really decide that you wanna do something that you go for and if there's -- hesitation then. It's just it's just let you know that you don't have the ability but you you don't have that the depth to carry on through. But it that it works for me and a and I really use this in my in my daily speaking with a kid. Goodness liking the programs for underprivileged kids have shown significant increase in minority youth playing hockey. The -- loss to -- Fantastic and I'm I'm glad that I had the opportunity to come in and put -- the clinic that was on the day. This is a wonderful if you work on the ice and and playing playing game that I believe is that the best game where. There are -- Comcast sports net.