The Washington Capitals held Black History in Hockey Night at Capital One Arena on Tuesday.
Hockey Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player, was joined on the ice by civil-rights pioneer and United States Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) for the ceremonial puck drop. O’Ree and Lewis both sported red Capitals jerseys for the occasion. O’Ree wore his own number 22, while Lewis, according to the Associated Press’s Stephen Whyno, wore number 65 in honor of the Selma to Montgomery March from 1965.
After their introduction by PA announcer Wes Johnson, O’Ree and Lewis received a reverent ovation from the DC crowd.
O’Ree and Lewis dropped the puck between Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Senators alternate captain Mark Borowiecki.
Both icons received salutes from the Capitals’ and Senators’ benches.
They appreciated it.
Perfect puck dropping, gentlemen.
As O’Ree and Lewis made their way off the ice, the Capitals gave high fives and fist bumps to O’Ree, delaying the honored guest’s exit. They were still on the Caps bench as the puck was dropped to begin the game officially. Tom Wilson seemed particularly excited to meet O’Ree.
Afterward, Lewis and O’Ree gave interviews to the media.
Rep. John Lewis wore 65 in honor of the march on Selma, Alabama, from March 1965. This was his first ceremonial puck drop. O’Ree said Lewis did well. “It’s all in the wrist.”
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) February 27, 2019
“[It was] unbelievable just standing out there with Congressman Lewis, just dropping the puck,” O’Ree said. “I had the opportunity to speak to him before he left. Just an unbelievable man. Some of the things he had to go through, I almost had tears in my eyes. He was telling me about some of the stories. It’s a great evening. I’m happy to be back in Washington DC again.”
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