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Willie O'Ree

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Q: Who was the first black player in the National Hockey League?
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Herb Carnegie had many achievements. His major achievement is problably that he was the best hockey player not to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). He didn't play in the NHL because he was black.


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Herb Carnegie had many achievements. His major achievement is probably that he was the best hockey player to not play in the National Hockey League (NHL). He didn't play in the NHL because he was black.


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The first African American professional hockey player was Willie O'Ree for the Boston Bruins. He made his debut on January 18, 1958 Actually, Willie O'Ree was the first black player to sign an NHL contract and play in an NHL game, however, O'Ree is Canadian (not American). The first African American to play in the NHL was Val Edwin James from Ocala Florida. To be very specific, professional hockey is much bigger than the the National Hockey League. The NCAA distinguishes amateur and professionals by whether they receive any direct payment in exchange for playing a sport. By this definition, there were many black and African American professional hockey players before Willie O'Ree. From 1895-1925 there was an entire professional Colored Hockey League in the Canadian Maritimes.


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It's impossible to know who the first black hockey player was!! However, if you mean the first to play in the NHL, it was Willie O'Ree of the Boston Bruins.


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