Senator Debbie Stabenow, National Hockey League, announce passage of Willie O’ree Congressional Gold Medal

Willie O'Ree

FILE – Former Boston Bruins’ Willie O’Ree tips his hat as he is honored prior to the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens in Boston, in this Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, file photo. The Boston Bruins say they will retire the jersey of Willie O’Ree, who broke the NHL’s color barrier. O’Ree will have his No. 22 jersey honored prior to the Bruins’ Feb. 18 game against the New Jersey Devils. He became the league’s first Black player when he suited up for Boston on Jan. 18, 1958 against the Montreal Canadiens, despite being legally blind in one eye. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) – Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Tim Scott (R-SC) and the NHL have announced that the legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Willie O’Ree has passed the U.S. Senate.

O’Ree was the first Black player to play in the NHL.

O’Ree, known as the “Jackie Robinson of Hockey” played the sport professionally for 22 years, including for an Original Six franchise team, the Bostin Bruins.

The legislation to award O’Ree the Congressional Gold Medal has moved to the House of Representatives.

“As the first Black player in the National Hockey League, Willie O’Ree was a trailblazer for young people across the country. He has also been a leader in the community, including his leadership through the Hockey Is For Everyone programs he championed in Detroit and around Michigan. Willie O’Ree has set an example for all of us as Americans,” said Senator Stabenow.

“From the hockey arena to serving young athletes in his community, Willie O’Ree’s legacy has inspired generations,” said Senator Scott. “Willie’s career didn’t end on the ice; it was punctuated by the generations of athletes he helped navigate the path he paved. Following the Senate’s unanimous passage, I look forward to the House acting quickly on this well-deserved recognition of Willie’s historic achievements.”

“The Boston Bruins organization is proud of our relationship with Willie, who is a tremendous figure in hockey both on and off the ice. We commend Senators Stabenow and Scott for their steadfast effort in recognizing Willie’s enduring legacy and preserving it for generations to come with Congress’ highest honor,” said Jeremy M. Jacobs, Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors and Owner of the Boston Bruins.

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