Jeff Carter

Kings will honor Willie O'Ree, hockey pioneer and ambassador for NHL's diversity program

Kings will honor Willie O'Ree, hockey pioneer and ambassador for NHL's diversity program

The first time Jordan Samuels-Thomas met Willie O’Ree, he really didn’t need an introduction.

“I knew exactly who he was. I’ve known who he was since I started playing hockey,” said Samuels-Thomas, a forward with the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate.

O’Ree became the first black to play in the NHL when he debuted for the Boston Bruins in January 1958. He would play one more game that season and just 43 more in his NHL career, but that was enough to make him a hero in Samuels-Thomas’ eyes.

But when they met for the first time, O’Ree told him he...

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