Over at CBC.ca they report on former Boston Bruins forward Willie O’Ree receiving Canada’s highest honor — the Order of Canada.
In the story, O’Ree expresses his desire to one day be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which along with the Order of Canada and his induction in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame would give him a trio of honors that he deserves. O’Ree, of course, broke hockey’s color barrier with the Bruins in January 1958. O’Ree has been the director of youth development for the NHL’s diversity program for numerous years — influencing the likes of New Jersey goaltender Kevin Weekes and others to pursue hockey as youths.
Commissioner Gary Bettman’s statement issued yesterday summed up O’Ree’s impact: “For more than 50 years, Willie has been a pioneer to the game of hockey. As a player, he paved the way for countless others to play the game of hockey. As director of youth development, he continues to provide opportunity to youth. I cannot think of a more deserving individual to receive this award and a better ambassador for Canada and the game of hockey.”
MK: So the question is, what’s the hold up, HHOF? O’Ree’s omission from the Hall for all this time is one of the game’s biggest oversights. O’Ree is 73 and it would be a major shame should he not be around for his eventual induction. The HHOF committee is one of the most secretive groups around, as its members and vetting process has always been shrouded in mystery. But no matter how in the dark the selectors are, they have to stick their head out into the light soon and induct O’Ree, both for his playing contribution and his efforts in the years since his playing days.
If you have 7 minutes, 10 seconds to spare, watch this feature TSN did on O’Ree last January.