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O’Ree, Bettman attend premiere of ‘Soul on Ice’

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WASHINGTON — Willie O’Ree wasn’t allowed an early screening of the film “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.”

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His co-worker at the NHL, Ken Martin, the League’s cheap jj watt jersey senior vice president of community and diversity programming, wanted him to have a visceral reaction to a movie that is as much about him and his legacy as a groundbreaker in hockey as anyone else.

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O’Ree broke the color barrier in the NHL when he debuted for the Boston Bruins Jerseys on Jan. 18, 1958. He is now a pioneer for diversity in hockey through the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone program as the League’s director of cause marketing.

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He found out Wednesday night that Martin was right, it was worth the wait.

A few minutes after watching the film in its U.S. premiere at Landmark E Street Cinema in a crowd of nearly 200, including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Washington Capitals chairman Ted Leonsis and coach Barry Trotz, O’Ree was near tears.

“Unbelievable,” O’Ree said. “Now I know why he didn’t want me to see it. It was breathtaking, really. I was thrilled when I saw it.”

The film, the first in the cinematic career of director Damon Kwame Mason and the winner of the audience choice award for documentary film at the Edmonton International Film Festival last year, takes the audience through the winding history of black players in hockey.

Commissioner Bettman said Mason’s film is a story that hasn’t been told enough, and is one that is worth telling more because it shows how inclusive the game of hockey historically has been.

“It’s a story that needed to be told, but not many people even imagined it could exist,” he said. “If you told somebody about this movie without actually seeing it, they’d think it was a work of fiction, like ‘how could it be because I’ve never heard of such a thing’ is what you get from most people.”

The film toggles back and forth, going from the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century, when the Colored Hockey League was in play in Nova Scotia, to present time. It features now 20-year-old prospect Jaden Lindo’s tumultuous draft year, from hype to a knee injury to getting selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lindo, whose parents never skated and didn’t know much about hockey when he told them he wanted to play, says he was once asked what it was like to be a black hockey player. His answer was that he didn’t know, because he sees himself as a hockey player who happens to be black.

The audience is treated to the story of Herb Carnegie, a Canadian who turned down a contract from the New York Rangers in 1948 because of personal and family reasons. It documents that former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe once said if Carnegie was white he’d sign him.

O’Ree’s story, of him playing 21 professional seasons, including 45 games with the Bruins despite being blind in one eye, is a big part of the film. So too are former players Tony McKegney, Mike Marson and Val James, the first American-born black player in the NHL.

Modern day NHL players such as Philadelphia wholesale jerseys Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds Jerseys, Montreal Canadiens Jerseys defenseman P.K. Subban Jerseys and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley Jerseys are prominently featured, as are their parents.

It was all Mason’s way of telling a history of hockey story he believes can be an educational tool to young black players today, one he never had as a kid growing up in Edmonton in the 1970s and 80s.

“I didn’t want these kids to grow up thinking it’s P.K. Subban Jerseys and that’s where it started,” Mason said. “I wanted them to know there’s a long standing history in this game cheap jj watt jersey and for us to show this history it is a service and it will broaden the game. You wait and you see; in 20 years the game is going to look at a lot different and it’s going to be the biggest game in North America. I promise you on this one cheap nhl jerseys, because it’s going to be so inclusive.”

The film did its part in educating, entertaining and enlightening an audience that included a collection of people from the hockey world, the political world, including congressmen, and members of Washington’s Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, which since 1978 has provided local and inner city youth an opportunity to participate in an organized hockey league.

“What I liked about it is it was three stories for me — it was a history of the game, Kwame’s story, and it was young Jaden’s story,” Trotz said. “There are some things that I feel ignorant on being someone in the game and not knowing all the story. It’s quite enlightening.”

Mason said his goal now is to work with the NHL to hopefully get the film shown nationally through the League’s broadcast partners, NBC in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada.

He feels if more eyes can see it, the discussion of diversity and inclusion can grow, which would only benefit the NHL and the game at large.

“It has some funny moments, but it also has some educational moments,” Mason said. “It has a way of making people think and say, ‘Hey, let’s have a bigger discussion about this game and let’s see what more we can do with this game and let’s see if we can attract a bigger audience.'”

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Tailgating a highlight for Classic fans at Gillette

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fans of the Montreal Canadiens Jerseys and Boston Bruins Jerseys were out in full force hours before the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, firing up their grills and tossing the football to create a party atmosphere in the Gillette Stadium parking lot.

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Inside and out, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots Jerseys was taken over by hockey fans and their passion for the game. Though the majority of fans were from the Boston area, many Canadiens fans made the trip from Montreal to revel in the excitement and take some lighthearted ribbing from the Boston faithful.

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“Bruins fans have been great,” said George Tsopeis of Montreal, who left home at 4 a.m. to make it to the game. “Some friendly jabs and some good lucks. It was really nice. It’s my first time experiencing this. For a Montrealer to watch a Bruins game in this venue, it’s beyond description.”

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Sebastian Cote of Montreal, J.D. Beaudoin (a native of Drummondville, Quebec now living in New Haven, Conn.) and Hubert Prodencher of Saint-Ferdinand, Quebec were tailgating since 9:30 a.m. while their wives were shopping. Though they’ve been to their share of games at Bell Centre, the outdoor experience brought back childhood memories.

“It’s our first time in a stadium like that and it’s amazing,” Cote said. “Just the cheap world cup jerseys size of the stadium right now is quite amazing. And to be outside, to have the feeling that it’s old-school going back when we were kids playing at the ice rink or our neighborhood … and tailgating in Canada is not that big, so it’s pretty nice to be able to experience that with hockey.”

Lou Charello of North Providence, R.I., was among a group of 20 in Lot 22 enjoying sizzling steaks, burgers, smoked sausage, cold beer and homemade blonde brownies. Charello was a Patriots season ticket holder before trading them for Bruins tickets. Even when he was at Gillette Stadium for football, he could tell how much the Bruins mean to the region.

“Even when you come here for an early-season Patriots game, you see a lot of Bruins jerseys in the parking lot,” Charello said. “They’re football fans, but they’re Bruins fans.

“This is the first time I’ve tailgated for hockey and it’s about the same [as football], the same enthusiasm.”

Elsewhere, 7-year-old Cormac Cunningham was playing hockey with friends and about to see his first NHL game. Cormac said his favorite players are Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron Jerseys and Seth Griffth, who signed a stick Cormac received for Christmas.

Living in Cumberland, R.I., a 15-minute drive to Foxborough wholesale jerseys, Cormac’s father, Mark, grew up a fan of the Hartford Whalers Jerseys and played hockey through high school before going to college on a golf scholarship. He coaches hockey at Bishop Feehan High School in Attelboro, Mass., and youth hockey with Bruce Berard, the brother of retired NHL player Bryan Berard.

“I’ve played all my life and my son plays, and just to share this experience with him …,” Cunningham said. “For me, wearing a Bruins hat is almost like wearing a Yankees hat. You can never take hockey out of my blood. It’s always a part of me.”

While the sounds of live music pulsated from cheap world cup jerseys nearby Spectator Plaza, which hosted 90,000 square feet of interactive hockey-themed attractions, three Bruins fans were polishing off their drinks before heading into the stadium and weren’t shy about expressing their pride for their team and their city.

“The hockey vibe in this town in unprecedented,” said Ian Baker of Dorchester, Mass. “There are no better fans in the country.”

The passion was obvious during pregame.

“Beers, tailgating, the fun times are flowing,” said Joe Kane of West Roxbury, Mass.

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Gillette Stadium ice sees first action, set for Classic

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Dan Craig finally saw some unfamiliar faces enjoying themselves on the rink he and his crew have built at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. It was a moment he won’t soon forget.

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The Boston Bruins Jerseys were here jj watt jersey cheap for a family skate in the afternoon and Craig, the NHL’s senior director of facility operations and hockey operations, marveled at the scene.

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“Did you see the kids?” Craig said. “Come on. Come on. That was awesome. That’s what it’s all about right there. Forget the big boys, look at the kids. It’s priceless to get the families out there to really, really enjoy it.”

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Craig will get to see a lot more on Thursday, when the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Jerseys practice in advance of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). In addition, the NHL is hosting the Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank and the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian at Gillette Stadium.

Craig said the ice is ready for it all.

“We’re in good shape,” he said. “A little bit of a cleanup to do later [Wednesday night], but we’re going to be good [Thursday] for practice and then we’ll see what Mother Nature throws at us for game day.”

The forecast for Friday in Foxborough is calling for mostly sunny skies with a high of 42 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 25, according to weather.com. Those conditions should work just fine for the game, Craig said.

It’ll actually be a nice change from what Craig and the crews have been dealing with the past few days, when the weather has turned on them several times and forced them to deal with wind, rain, sleet, snow and a significant drop in temperature.

“You have a plan and all of a sudden Mother Nature decides she is going to do something else,” Craig said. “The next thing you know you have to do a management seminar and say, ‘OK, guys, we’re in a different direction.'”

“[Wednesday] is the calmest day we’ve had here,” Craig later said. “[Tuesday], all of a sudden the wind came up and shifted, the sleet started jj watt jersey cheap going, rain started coming, and you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ You just make changes as you go.”

Craig said patience is the key. He said he learned that six years ago, when he did a rink build for the Winter Classic game at Fenway Park in Boston.

“I have to tell the guys to tell me, ‘Be patient, be patient. We have a program, stay with it, be patient and we’ll be fine,'” Craig said. “Things change and you have to be patient and ride it out.”

He got to see some of his patience pay off on Wednesday, when the families of the Bruins players took their memorable twirl at Gillette Stadium. Craig will get a better study of how his ice is doing Thursday, when the events will run one after another with barely a break in between.

The Bruins are scheduled to practice at 11 a.m. ET. The Canadiens go on at 12:30. The women’s game is scheduled for 2 p.m. and puck drop for the alumni game is expected to happen around 3:30 p.m.

“If we have a day like today, perfect,” Craig said. “Let’s go. Drop the puck. Bring the boys in. Put their equipment on. Let’s get at it.”