The Los Angeles Kings celebrated Martin Luther King Day in a very special way. For puck drop on their afternoon game, they had none other than Willie O'Ree do the ceremonial honors before the Kings and Lightning game.
O'Ree made his NHL debut on Jan. 18, 1958 as a call-up for the Boston Bruins and became the first player to break the league’s color barrier. In two seasons and 45 games in the NHL, O’Ree had 14 points.
In the Western Hockey League, a defunct minor pro hockey league that existed from the 1950s to the 1970s, O’Ree was a standout, scoring 639 points in 785 games. O’Ree won the scoring title twice during his 13-year WHL career.
And his connection to the Los Angeles area? O’Ree played most of his WHL career on the Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls.
The first person to break the color barrier in the @NHL: Willie O'Ree. From @FOXSportsWEST. pic.twitter.com/Rkbq2aAyUf— #LAKings (@LAKings) January 16, 2017