NHL legend Willie O’Ree joins PHF’s Boston Pride ownership group

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The Premier Hockey Federation’s Boston Pride named Hockey Hall of Famer and trailblazer Willie O’Ree to its ownership group on Thursday.

O’Ree broke the NHL’s colour barrier as the first Black man to play in the NHL in 1958 and has receive the Order of Canada and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, representing the highest civilian honour for each country. He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 as a builder and his No. 22 has been retired by the Boston Bruins, with whom he played in two NHL seasons.

O’Ree will have a minority stake in the Pride franchise.

“It is a thrill for me to extend my involvement in the sport and community that are such special parts of my life,” said the Fredericton, N.B., native in a statement. “The growth of the women’s game is so important, and I admire these world-class athletes for being role models who are making a difference for younger generations. I have always received tremendous love and support in Boston. I’m proud to be a member of the Pride and look forward to cheering these women on as they compete for another championship.”

O’Ree’s addition to the Pride marks the second time this week that a PHF team has diversified its ownership group. On Monday, the Toronto Six was sold to a group of investors led by former NHL player and current Sportsnet analyst Anthony Stewart, Hockey Hall of Famer Angela James — both of whom are Black — and former NHL coach Ted Nolan, who is Indigenous.

The Pride is one of the original four PHF (formerly NWHL) teams and are the reigning Isobel Cup winners as league champions.

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