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Canada Post to honour hockey trailblazer Willie O'Ree with stamp

Willie O'Ree, poses for a photo during an interview in Toronto on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. It's been 60 years since Willie O'Ree broke the National Hockey League's colour barrier and he still hears racial remarks in the rink. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin

Canada Post is issuing a stamp to honour Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first Black player.

O’Ree is scheduled to be in attendance when the stamp is unveiled Saturday in Edmonton as part of the Heritage Classic festivities. The stamp will be officially issued Monday.

O’Ree made his NHL debut with Boston on Jan. 18, 1958, and played two games with the Bruins that season.

The winger played in the minors for the next two seasons before appearing in 43 more NHL games with Boston in 1960-61, scoring four goals and adding 10 assists.


While he only appeared in a handful of NHL games over his lengthy professional career, O’Ree’s impact on the game has been significant.

The 88-year-old from Fredericton received the Order of Canada in 2008 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018. His No. 22 jersey was retired by the Bruins on Jan. 18, 2022, on the 64th anniversary of his NHL debut.

Last year, he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, the U.S. Congress’s highest honour, for his contributions to “hockey, inclusion and recreational opportunity.”

O’Ree is the first player in NHL history to receive the honour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2023.