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Finally: Willie O’Ree gets the call to the Hall of Fame

It took them way too long, but the Hall of Fame finally got it right.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It took the Hall of Fame several decades longer than necessary, but they finally got it right today: Willie O’Ree will be a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.

O’Ree, who broke the NHL’s color barrier with the Bruins back in 1958, will be inducted into the Hall in the Builders category, reserved for those who made extraordinary contributions to the sport of hockey, ones that might not show up on the stat sheet.

Willie O’Ree has been a gem for the NHL for the better part of his adult life, first breaking the color barrier, then serving as an NHL Diversity Ambassador for two decades.

That it took the Hall of Fame this long to include him is a stain on the Hall itself, but better late than never. O’Ree deserves a spot more than just about any other builder, and it’s great to finally see him earn that recognition.

“Willie is a pioneer and tremendous ambassador for the game of hockey, and on behalf of the Bruins organization I would like to congratulate Willie and his family on today’s announcement that he will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Cam Neely in a press release from the Bruins. “The courage he showed 60 years ago when he broke the league’s color barrier while wearing a Bruins sweater is an inspiration, and his work today continues to grow the game of hockey and spread the message that hockey is for everyone.”

Congrats, Willie!