Hall of Fame inductee Willie O'Ree is honored prior to the 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic Game at the Scotiabank Place on November 11, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Willie O'Ree became the National Hockey League's first black player when he suited up for the Bruins in 1958 and, tonight--60 years later--he'll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
O'Ree recently told WBZ's Carl Stevens what it meant to him when he received the news.
"When I got the call from the hall, I was overwhelmed and so excited, I couldn't talk for a few seconds," he said. "I'm honored, very grateful, and I'm looking forward to getting inducted. The excitement is there, and my whole family is excited for me. I'm so happy."
O'Ree discussed the challenges behind being hockey's Jackie Robinson and breaking the color barrier.
"When I broke in with the Bruins, there were only six teams in the league, it was called the original six," he said. "I was exposed to racial slurs and racial remarks, but I just let it go in one ear and out the other, all I wanted to do was play hockey and represent the hockey club to the best of my ability, and thanks to the Bruins organization, especially the players that I had the privilege to play with, they made sure that when I was on the ice, that they took care of me and looked after me. I just went out and played hockey and had fun."
O'Ree only played 45 games in the NHL, but enjoyed 13 seasons in the WHL and didn't retire until 1979.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) reports