Willie O'Ree was the first-ever black hockey player in the NHL, making his debut on January 18, 1958 with the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. He joined Jim to talk about what it was like to break the NHL color barrier and how far the sport has come since. 

O'Ree started skating at the age of three, and playing hockey at the age of five. He knew he could go professional at age 14, but knew that there were no black people playing in the NHL. At age 17, O'Ree went to Canada to play professionally. In his second year playing professionally, O'Ree took a puck to the face, breaking his nose and cheek. The impact of the puck shattered the retina in his right eye, leaving him blind in that eye. The doctor told him that he would never play hockey again. Ten days after leaving the hospital, O'Ree was back on the ice.

O'Ree went to the Bruins training camp in 1957 and 1958, and was asked to play with the team against the Montreal Canadians. At the time, O'Ree didn't realize that he was the first player of color to play. He said, "he could see people pointing in his direction," noticing his race but "he was just another Bruins player." 

Before O'Ree stepped on the ice for the Bruins, he was given advice by the coach and general manager. They told him to let any racial remarks "go in one ear and out the other." O'Ree did face racism later on in his career, most notably playing against Chicago. 

O'Ree had the opportunity to meet Jackie Robinson twice, once as a 14-year-old, and later on as a professional hockey player. Robinson remembered O'Ree from their meeting in 1949 in Brooklyn, over ten years later. O'Ree said Robinson was surprised to learn that there were black hockey players. 

Today, O'Ree works for the NHL, with a program called Hockey For Everyone. He speaks all over the country, encouraging young people to play hockey if they are interested in the sport. "It doesn't seem like a job," says O'Ree.