Fantasy Hockey

The O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Bill Signed by President Biden

The bill to award Willie O’Ree the Congressional Gold Medal was signed into law Monday by President Joe Biden.

“This prestigious honor is befitting Willie O’Ree, a trailblazer whose impact on hockey was revolutionary, profound and lasting,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday. “A true trailblazer and trailblazer, O’Ree can add another achievement to his list of accolades: the first hockey player to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in nearly 250 years of history. Congratulations, Willie, and well deserved .”

With a bipartisan vote of 426 to 0 on January 19, the House passed a bill giving the U.S. Congress’ highest honor to O’Ree, who became the first black NHL player when he made his debut with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens. at the Montreal Forum on January 18, 1958.

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the bill on July 27, 2021. The House vote came the day after the Boston Bruins retired No. 22 O’Ree in a ceremony at TD Garden.

A date on which he will receive the award has not been determined.

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to individuals or groups for outstanding achievements and contributions. Recipients include George Washington, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Jackie Robinson, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

O’Ree played 45 games with the Bruins over two seasons (1957-58, 1960-61) and scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) despite being legally blind in his right eye, result from an injury sustained while playing junior hockey. .

He had a long professional career, mostly in the old Western Hockey League, where he scored 639 points (328 goals, 311 assists) in 785 games for Los Angeles and San Diego.

After his playing career, O’Ree helped establish 39 grassroots hockey programs and inspired more than 130,000 boys and girls to play the sport.

“Since 1998, O’Ree has been an ambassador for positive social change using hockey as a platform to build character, teach skills and pass on the values ​​of hockey – perseverance, teamwork and dedication,” said the Commissioner Bettman.

O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 as a builder, primarily for his off-ice accomplishments. His life story was chronicled in an award-winning documentary, “Willie”, released in 2019.

“The president signing this bill yesterday means that the work O’Ree did will never be forgotten,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat and one of the bill’s co-sponsors. bedroom. “He left a permanent mark on the sport, and I can think of no better way to thank him than to honor him with the Congressional Gold Medal.”