For the puck drop of our afternoon Lightning v Kings game, we had none other than Willie O'Ree do the ceremonial honors.
O'Ree made his NHL debut on Jan. 18, 1958. He was called up to the Boston Bruins and became the first player to break the league's color barrier.
His connection to the Los Angeles area: he played most of his WHL (Western Hockey League) career on the Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls. To read about the Los Angeles Blades, written by Sheng Peng, click the link here.
Prior to the puck drop, O'Ree attended a screening of the documentary "Soul On Ice" with local YMCA children.
Right before the game began, FOX Sports West aired an excellent piece on O'Ree, his life, his impact on hockey and more:
In the arena, as fans entered STAPLES Center, we played Martin Luther King Jr's speech on the jumbo-tron. This set the mood for what was to transpire on the ice with the puck-drop from O'Ree, our alternate captain Jeff Carter, and Tampa Bay Lightning player Brian Boyle.
Fans in attendance and those watching at home appreciated O'Ree and the impact he made to the game. Some were lucky enough to meet the man in person too at STAPLES Center.
We thank you, Willie O'Ree, for all that you have done for hockey.