The success of recent documentaries about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Fred Rogers proves that people are craving heroes right now. Enter Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
He’s the subject of “Willie,” an upcoming feature length documentary whose executive producer Bryant McBride says is “10 percent about hockey and 90 percent about life.”
A native of New Brunswick, Canada, O’Ree shattered the NHL’s color barrier with the Boston Bruins in 1958, amid the birth of the Civil Rights movement. Although he had to deal with racist taunts by fans and some opponents, he was welcomed by teammates and management.
His debut came two years after losing an eye to a slap shot — a secret he kept for more than two decades. O’Ree played just 45 NHL games and ended up toiling 22 seasons in the minors, spending most of his last 15 in California and playing into his 40s.
Read the story at Deadline.
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