Historic hockey moments as Taya Currie becomes first female OHL draft pick, and Willie O’Ree enshrined at the Smithsonian

Willie O’Ree statue (National Museum of African American History and Culture)

Over the last few days, there have been two historic moments in hockey history that deserve recognition. We begin with the great Willie O’Ree who broke the NHL’s color barrier. He is now enshrined at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in a new exhibition dedicated to instrumental Black athletes.

Willie O’Ree statue at Smithsonian

A beautiful bronze statue commemorating O’Ree’s significance for Black Athletes in the world of sports now resides at the Smithsonian’s “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field” gallery.

“When I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2018, I never imagined that I would one day be part of the sports exhibit,” O’Ree said. “This is a very special honor for me and my family.”

NHL.com

Next season, the Boston Bruins will honor O’Ree when they retire his jersey to the rafters.

“After breaking the color barrier as a Boston Bruin in 1958 and eventually retiring from professional hockey in 1979, Willie became the ultimate ambassador for improving diversity and inclusion within the game of hockey,” Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs said.

“The entire hockey world is forever indebted to Willie for all that he has done, and continues to do, for the sport. We are incredibly proud to retire Willie’s number and cement his legacy as one of Boston’s greatest athletes.” 

Taya Currie makes history as first female OHL draft pick

taya currie OHL
Taya Currie is part of history (Mike Hensen/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network)

The Sarnia Sting made some history when in round 14 of the OHL draft they selected 16 year-old goalie, Taya Currie.

“It just means so much,” Currie said. “For the Sting to take a chance on me as a female, it’s an awesome feeling.”

Toronto Star

Following in the footsteps of Manon Rhéaume, Currie is considered a legit prospect for her reflexes and competitive attitude. One potential hurdle to overcome will be her size in net, which is small compared to many of her counterparts. We wish her nothing but success.