DETROIT -- Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL, will join the Red Wings at the eighth annual Toast of Hockeytown wine tasting gala from 6-9 p.m.tonight at Joe Louis Arena. In addition to the current Wings team, Red Wings legends Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay and other Wings alumni are scheduled to attend.
O’Ree is celebrating his 50th anniversary of becoming the first black player in the NHL. He played for the Boston Bruins from 1958-61, and enjoyed a professional career of 21 seasons, playing the majority of those years in the Western Hockey League. He currently serves as the director of youth development, NHL Diversity.
The Toast of Hockeytown is the Wings premier fundraising event to benefit the Red Wings Foundation, and offers guests the opportunity to join the team for an elegant evening of wine tasting, fine liqueurs, a strolling buffet, great silent and live auctions, as well as the opportunity to tour the Wings' dressing room.
A new feature of this year’s event gives attendees the chance to win the experience-of-a-lifetime: dinner with Steve Yzerman in the Olympia Club prior to a game at Joe Louis Arena later this season. A limited number of pucks autographed by current members of the team will be available for $50 in a random draw. All pucks will be opened simultaneously and the guest who selects the puck signed by Yzerman in gold will be the lucky winner.
Since its inception, this annual event has raised more than $750,000. The Red Wings Foundation supports several initiatives and organizations including: the development of inner city youth hockey, the fight against cancer, a wide array of children’s health, educational and recreational activities and other needs of the community through the sport of hockey. Additionally, the team and foundation remain committed to providing support and funding to the Family Funds of Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov for their continued care and rehabilitation.