Meet the ‘Jackie Robinson of the NHL’

The Bruins might be out of the 2018 Stanley Cup, but Willie O’Ree’s legacy lives on.

Almost everybody knows Jackie Robinson and the historic role he played integrating Major League Baseball and paving the way for other sports to do the same.

But mention Willie O’Ree, and you’ll likely receive a blank look.


That’s a shame because over a half-century ago, O’Ree did his own part bringing down a racial barrier in a different sport.

On Jan. 18, 1958, O’Ree — a 22-year-old forward from Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada — became the first black person to play in a National Hockey League game.

O’Ree had always known he possessed the talent to play in the NHL. A speedy skater with an intuitive feel for the game, he had played organized hockey since age 5 and scored 22 goals with 12 assists in his first professional season with Quebec. His big break came when the Boston Bruins invited him to attend training camp before the start of the 1957-58 season. Although he failed to make the final cut, team officials were impressed enough by his overall performance to tell him he needed only “a little more seasoning” to reach the big time.

“They knew what I could do,” O’Ree later recalled in his 2000 memoir, “The Autobiography of Willie O’Ree: Hockey’s Black Pioneer.”

Sure enough, that January, the Bruins were short a roster player and called him up from their minor league club for a road contest against the Montreal Canadiens.

O’Ree could barely control his excitement. “I could see fans pointing, ‘There’s that black kid. He’s up with the Bruins,’” O’Ree wrote.

Despite his nervousness, he did nothing to embarrass himself during a rare 3-0 Boston shutout over their hated archrivals. “O’Ree is not only fast, but he’s a strong skater,” Montreal coach Frank Selke said after the game. “He looks as if he could go all night.”

O’Ree suited up for only one more game as a Bruin that season before returning to the minors. He was hardly crestfallen. “I’m just happy to get a chance up here, that’s about all I can say,” he told The Boston Globe.

O’Ree returned to the Bruins in 1960-61 and notched four goals and 10 assists in 43 games. His first NHL goal — a game-winner against Montreal at the Boston Garden on New Year’s Day 1961 — proved memorable. On a breakaway, a teammate fed him a perfect pass, which he deposited under the glove hand of Montreal goaltender Charlie Hodge. For his standout effort, O’Ree received a rousing standing ovation from the home crowd that lasted several minutes.

O’Ree wasn’t so well received at other NHL venues. At New York City’s venerable Madison Square Garden, for instance, fans showered him with racial insults before he even stepped onto the ice. In Chicago, he was targeted for abuse after bruising Blackhawks forward Eric “Elbows” Nesterenko. After calling O’Ree the n-word, Nesterenko took the butt of his stick and rammed it into O’Ree’s unsuspecting face. A broken nose and two missing front teeth later, O’Ree had had enough. He took his stick and smashed Nesterenko over the head with it. O’Ree’s teammates rushed to his aid as both teams’ benches emptied. What followed was a classic hockey donnybrook that ended with O’Ree being sent to the Bruins locker room for medical treatment.

“Every time I went on the ice I was faced with racial slurs because of my color,” O’Ree admitted to the Anti-Defamation League Youth Congress gathering held in Boston in 2016. “I had black cats thrown on the ice and [people] told me to [go] back to the cotton fields and pick cotton,” he said. O’Ree claimed he didn’t mind. “I didn’t let it hurt me,” he said. “I let it go in one ear and out the other.”

O’Ree’s dream of hockey glory was almost cut tragically short. While playing in a junior league game in Guelph, Ontario, as a 20-year-old, he lost sight in most of his right eye after a deflected slap shot struck his face. Ignoring his doctor’s advice to hang up his skates, O’Ree continued to play despite being at an obvious competitive disadvantage.

“I was a left shot, and I was playing left wing, but I had no right eye,” O’Ree explained. He didn’t want others to know of his handicap, lest it would scare teams away from employing him. “It was my secret,” he said.

The Bruins traded O’Ree to the Canadiens before the start of the 1961-62 season. O’Ree was personally devastated. Montreal was an elite team coming off a string of Stanley Cup championships and had no room for O’Ree on their roster. As a result, O’Ree spent the remainder of his career playing on a series of minor league clubs, including the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League. He was a major standout for Los Angeles, scoring a career-high 38 goals in 1964-65. But the NHL never gave him a second look.

O’Ree did, however, serve as an inspiration to future NHL players of color like Jarome Iginla and Mike Greer.

“I’m in awe knowing what he went through,” Iginla told USA Today in 2008. “There is a lot of trash-talking going on [in the game], and I can’t imagine what he must have gone through.”

The ConversationFor his part, O’Ree has voiced few regrets. He did, after all, defy the odds. And he’ll forever be known as the “Jackie Robinson of hockey.”

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

RELATED: A ridiculous dad transformed Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy' into a 3-minute long musical dad joke

While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur


via zoezimmm / imgur

The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

Keep Reading Show less
Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular