Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Carolina Hurricanes


by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

First minority hockey player to deliver motivational speech to children

RALEIGH, N.C. (June 25, 2004) – NHL Diversity and the Hurricanes’ Kids ‘N Community Foundation together have arranged a special assembly today at Washington GT Magnet Elementary School featuring Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player. O’Ree will deliver a motivational speech to a group of children from Communities in Schools, the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club today at 3 p.m. Washington GT Magnet Elementary School is located at 1000 Fayetteville St. in Raleigh.

O’Ree played his first game in the NHL with the Boston Bruins on Jan. 18, 1958, becoming the first black player in the National Hockey League. He played professional hockey for 21 years, retiring in 1980 at age 45. In February 1998, O'Ree was named the director of youth development for NHL Diversity. Since his appointment, he has traveled to more than 50 NHL and non-NHL markets across North America, conducting clinics and visiting schools and hospitals and reaching out to thousands of children. In 1999, "The Autobiography of Willie O'Ree: Hockey's Black Pioneer," was published and chronicles his 21-year pro career.

For more information regarding O’Ree’s appearance at Washington Elementary, please contact Hurricanes Manager of Community Relations Emma Bennett at 919-861-5467, Community Relations Coordinator Anne Clinard at 919-861-5494 or the NHL’s Public Relations office at the Marriott Crabtree in Raleigh at 919-781-7000.

NHL Diversity is a part of the NHL Foundation, the National Hockey League's charitable and community relations organization. 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. There are approximately 32 inner-city, volunteer organizations in various stages of development that receive support from the NHL. Since its inception, NHL Diversity has exposed more than 30,000 boys and girls to unique hockey experiences, including the annual Willie O'Ree All-Star Weekend and the NHL Diversity Hockey Scholarship Program.

Communities in Schools of Wake County connects students with community resources and educational opportunities to help them succeed in school and life. They are one of 35 Communities in Schools programs in North Carolina and are part of a national network of programs across the country. In fact, the Wake County program has been recognized as a signature local program by Communities in Schools of North Carolina. Their vision is that every child has the opportunity to learn and become a productive citizen. They operate six community learning centers and 15 school program sites, as well as career resource centers to help students prepare for college.

The Kids ‘N Community Foundation provides much needed funding to children’s charities and education programs throughout North Carolina. With ongoing support from players, annual special events and the corporate community, the Foundation has funded scholarship programs, youth hockey, educational and literacy efforts, children’s health programs, the arts and other children’s related initiatives. Annually, the Foundation provides cash and in-kind contributions totaling nearly $1 million to charitable and educational programs in North Carolina. Hurricanes players, their families and the team’s staff are actively involved in community activities. The Hurricanes take great pride in the ability to have a positive impact in our state.

The Carolina Hurricanes will host the 2004 NHL Entry Draft at the RBC Center on June 26-27. The draft is open to the public and tickets and parking to the event are free. The first three rounds of the NHL Entry Draft will begin Saturday, June 26 at 12 p.m., with the first round televised nationally in the United States on ESPN2 and in Canada on TSN/RDS. Free general admission section tickets to the Entry Draft are available through several different outlets. Fans can download tickets online at, or pick them up at the Dodge Box Office at the RBC Center or any retail location of The Eye team store. Fans may also pick up tickets at any North Carolina RBC Centura banking center or Triangle-area Harris Teeter store. In addition, tickets will be available the day of the event at the RBC Center.

View More