Founded in 1995, NHL Diversity provides support and unique programming to not-for-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering economically disadvantaged boys and girls of all ages opportunities to play hockey. Since its inception, NHL Diversity has exposed more than 40,000 boys and girls to unique hockey experiences.
Willie O'Ree is the National Hockey League's Director of Youth Development and hockey ambassador for NHL Diversity, a post he has held since January 1998. A former Boston Bruin, O'Ree's first game on January 18, 1958 against the Montreal Canadiens was marked with historic content as he became the first black person to play in the NHL.
The 2007-2008 season will mark the 50th anniversary of O'Ree's NHL debut with the Boston Bruins. To commemorate his work and recognize this milestone, O'Ree and the National Hockey League will host numerous initiatives throughout the season at both the local and national levels-including events celebrating the diversity of the game and the "Hockey is for Everyone" initiative. To learn more about Willie, click here.
There are approximately 30 inner-city, volunteer organizations in various stages of development that receive support from the National Hockey League. To find out if there is a program in your community, or if you're interested in starting a program in your community, please contact the NHL at 212-789-2000.
THE ANNUAL WILLIE O'REE ALL-STAR GAME
Launched in 1997, the Willie O'Ree All-Star Game is an annual celebration of the multicultural heritage of the NHL as boys and girls, 12 and under, representing NHL diversity programs from across North America, interact with NHL players, attend an NHL game, and enjoy the host city. The highlight of the weekend is the actual game, in which coed teams compete in an east-versus-west format. The Willie O'Ree All-Star game will return for the 2008-2009 season.