NHL players will wear helmet decals in celebration of the 63rd anniversary of Willie O’Ree becoming the first Black player in the League and to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a United States national holiday that honors the late civil rights leader.
The decals feature an image of O’Ree wearing his trademark fedora and the words “Celebrating Equality.” The players will wear the stickers from Jan. 16 until the end of February, which is Black History Month.
The initiative was announced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday.
The holiday, which falls on Jan. 18 this year, coincides with the anniversary of O’Ree becoming the NHL’s first Black player when he joined the Boston Bruins in 1958 for a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum.
“When I reminisce back, I say, ‘Oh my goodness, 1958. Time flies,'” O’Ree said. “I’m thrilled, overwhelmed about the stickers.”