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This Date in NHL History

Jan. 18: O'Ree first black player in NHL

Plus: Sawchuk becomes all-time shutouts leader; expansion Islanders stun Bruins

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

THIS DATE IN HISTORY: Jan. 18

1958: Willie O'Ree becomes the first black player to appear in an NHL game when he debuts for the Boston Bruins' game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum. He plays on a line with Don McKenney and Jerry Toppazzini but is kept off the scoresheet in Boston's 3-0 victory.

O'Ree plays two games with Boston before being sent back to the minors, but returns in 1960-61, scoring four goals and 14 points in 43 games. He is traded to Montreal, but never plays for the Canadiens. Instead, he spends most of the next 13 seasons in the Western Hockey League with Los Angeles and San Diego before retiring in 1979. O'Ree plays more than two decades of professional hockey despite being almost completely blind in his right eye, the result of being struck with a puck in a junior game during the 1955-56 season.

O'Ree joins the NHL in 1998 as director of youth development for the League's diversity task force, encouraging boys and girls from diverse backgrounds to play hockey.

Video: 60 years later, O'Ree's strength and courage resonate

 

MORE MOMENTS

1945: A crowd of 7,687 wait at Olympia Stadium for more than three hours to see the game between the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, who are delayed by bad weather. The Red Wings defeat the Rangers 7-3 in a game that began at 11:15 p.m. and ends at 12:56 a.m.

 

1964: Terry Sawchuk becomes the NHL's all-time shutout leader when he makes 36 saves in the Red Wings' 2-0 victory against Montreal at the Forum. It's the 95th shutout for Sawchuk, moving him past George Hainsworth. Sawchuk finishes his NHL career in 1970 with 103 shutouts.

On the same night, the Bruins defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 11-0 at Boston Garden for the biggest shutout win in their history. Dean Prentice scores three goals and assists on three more, and Andy Hebenton has his third NHL hat trick and an assist. Ed Johnston gets the shutout.

Video: Terry Sawchuk was four-time Vezina-winning goalie

 

1967: The NHL All-Star Game is held at midseason for the first time. The Stanley Cup champion Canadiens defeat the All-Stars 3-0 at the Forum. John Ferguson scores two goals and goaltenders Charlie Hodge and Gary Bauman combine for the shutout, still the only one in All-Star game history.

 

1973: In the highlight of their first NHL season, the expansion New York Islanders stun the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins 9-7 at Boston Garden, ending a 12-game losing streak and a 20-game winless streak on the road. The Islanders take a 5-0 lead in the first period and survive a four-goal game by Boston's Johnny Bucyk for the victory, one of two road wins by New York all season. The Islanders finish 12-60-6, setting NHL records for fewest wins and points.

 

2000: Steve Yzerman scores his 614th goal, the most in NHL history by a player who spends his entire career with one team. Yzerman breaks Mario Lemieux's record during Detroit's 6-1 road loss to the Calgary Flames.

 

2002: Detroit's Luc Robitaille scores his 611th goal during a 3-1 victory against the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena to become the leading goal-scorer among left wings in NHL history. He passes Bobby Hull, who has 610 goals when he retires in 1980.

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