Willie O’Ree, 5 others get Hockey Hall of Fame call

Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player, headlined Tuesday’s unveiling of this year’s Hockey Hall of Fame inductees.

The 82-year-old Fredericton native had been eligible for induction since 1962.

O’Ree broke into the league as a right-winger in 1958 and went on to play 45 NHL regular-season games for the Boston Bruins.

Current NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will also be inducted as a builder in November.

The player inductees include goalie Martin Brodeur, who won an NHL-high 691 regular-season games, winger Martin St. Louis, longtime Canadian national women’s team forward Jayna Hefford and former Soviet Union forward Alexander Yakushev.

O’Ree, who continues to make an impact on the sport, had the 60th anniversary of his first NHL game recognized by the Bruins on Jan. 18 while the league announced the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in April.