NEW YORK, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Willie O'Ree, who broke the NHL's color barrier more than 40 years ago, was named Thursday as one of three recipients of the 2003 Lester Patrick Award.
Also recognized for their outstanding service to hockey in the United States were five-time Norris Trophy winner Ray Bourque and Ron DeGregorio, who has been involved with USA Hockey since 1973.
O'Ree became the first player of African-American descent in NHL history when he appeared in two games for the Boston Bruins during the 1957-58 season. He played 43 games for the Bruins in 1960-61 and spent 13 seasons in the Western Hockey League.
O'Ree currently serves as director of youth development for NHL Diversity.
Bourque capped a 22-year NHL playing career in 2001 by winning his first Stanley Cup championship with the Colorado Avalanche. He spent his first 21 seasons with the Bruins, winning the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 1994.
A 19-time All-Star, Bourque tops the NHL all-time list for defensemen with 410 goals, 1,169 assists and 1,579 points. He is fourth all-time with 1,612 games played, trailing only Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Larry Murphy.
DeGregorio has spent more than four decades in hockey as a player, coach, administrator and team owner. He currently serves as vice president and chairman of the USA Hockey International Council and is a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committe's Pan-American and Olympic Captive Insurance Program.