U.S. senators pushing for Willie O’Ree to receive Congressional Gold Medal

A pair of United States senators are urging their peers to sign legislation that would give Willie O'Ree, the NHL's first black player, the Congressional Gold Medal.

The medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress.

"Please join us in honoring Willie O'Ree for his extraordinary contributions to sport, service, and society by cosponsoring the Willie O'Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act," Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan wrote in "Dear Colleague" letters, according to NHL.com's William Douglas.

"Mr. O'Ree is best known as the 'Jackie Robinson of ice hockey' after he became the first black player to compete in the National Hockey League as a member of the Boston Bruins. Through his groundbreaking contributions and commitment to professional hockey, Mr. O'Ree has had a profound impact on the sport for the past 60 years."

O'Ree, now 83, made his NHL debut with the Bruins in 1958. He played 43 games in the NHL before a lengthy career in the WHL.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. The league also introduced the Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award, recognizing an individual who's worked to make a positive impact on their community through hockey.

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