It's been more than 50 years since Willie O'Ree broke the NHL's color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958 with the Boston Bruins. The 15 years he's spent leading the National Hockey League's Hockey is for Everyone program have only cemented the legacy of the man who played professionally for 20 years with the use of only one good eye.
But don't call Willie O'Ree the Jackie Robinson of hockey.
"The media called me that. I never said I was Jackie Robinson. I didn't have to go through a lot of the racism and prejudice and bigotry that Mr. Robinson went through," O'Ree told NHL.com. "But it was there. Having slurs and racial remarks directed towards you, not only by players but fans in the stands. I let it in one ear and out the other. I just wanted to play hockey to the best of my ability."
O'Ree actually met Robinson twice, once as a 14-year-old baseball player visiting New York and years later as a member of the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League.