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This Date in NHL History

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

Plus: Terry Sawchuk becomes all-time shutouts leader

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor



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

O'Ree plays two games with Boston before being sent back to the minors, but returns to the Bruins 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. He 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: Memories: Willie O'Ree is NHL's first black player




1964: Terry Sawchuk becomes the NHL's all-time shutout leader when he makes 36 saves in the Detroit 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 his fourth NHL shutout.


1967: For the first time in NHL history, the All-Star game is held at midseason. 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 when he scores in Detroit's 6-1 road loss to the Calgary Flames.


2002: Detroit's Luc Robitaille scores his 611th career 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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