The NHL’s American Legacy Black Hockey History Bus will complete its eight-city tour in Washington, DC this week as part of the league’s “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign. The bus, which toured throughout Black History Month, celebrated black players throughout the league’s history. It was a concept that came from a partnership between the NHL and American Legacy Magazine, which celebrates black history and culture.
There are roughly only 25 black players out of the 700 currently on NHL game rosters, though minority representation is growing in youth leagues. Stars like P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds continue to be notable black players in the NHL today.
Hockey’s color barrier was broken in 1958 by Willie O’Ree, who played for the Boston Bruins and paved the way for black players in the NHL. The 84-year-old has been traveling with the bus’s tour this month, and will be honored at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. O’Ree helped to establish 39 local grassroots hockey programs and is proud that the league is celebrating black history today. ““We’ve come a long way since when I broke into the league. There’s more kids of color playing hockey today than ever before, and more girls,” said O’Ree. “So, we’re going in the right direction.”
The mobile museum is 525 square feet, and exhibits the memorabilia, historical documents, and photos of black trailblazers who have played in the league and made significant contributions to the advancement of ice hockey throughout the years.