Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree could receive highest award given by Congress

Willie O'Ree
Posted at 7:55 PM, Feb 26, 2021

Hockey pioneer Willie O'Ree is back on course to receive the highest award given by Congress.

In 2019, Republican Sen. Tim Scott, and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, announced their bipartisan legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to O'Ree.

But according to an NHL press release, since the last Congress did not vote on it, a new Congress was sworn in, and the bill had to be reintroduced, which it was on Thursday.

"From his historic debut with the Boston Bruins to his decades of service to create greater opportunities for diverse, young hockey players across America, Willie O'Ree has made remarkable contributions to our sport and society," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press release. "The Willie O'Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act, introduced today with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, is a tremendous honor that Willie undoubtedly deserves for his impact on and off the ice."

O'Ree, the first Black player to play in the NHL, debuted in 1958 with the Boston Bruins.

He went on to have a 21-year career in the pros, despite being legally blind in one eye.

O'Ree was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, according to The Associated Press.

For over 20 years, the Canadian hockey legend has served as the league's Diversity Ambassador.