Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Herb Carnegie Nov. 8, 1919 - March 9, 2012 Hockey Trailblazer Never Got His Nhl Shot

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Herb Carnegie Nov. 8, 1919 - March 9, 2012 Hockey Trailblazer Never Got His Nhl Shot

Article excerpt

His memory had dimmed, and glaucoma had robbed him of sight. At 92, Herb Carnegie was living in an assisted-care home in northern Toronto.

But Mr. Carnegie, who many say should have been the Jackie Robinson of the National Hockey League, laughed with delight when he reminisced about his youthful hockey experiences.

"We learned to skate on the frozen ponds right outside the front door," he said. "When I was 7, my sister Bernice said, 'Hey, Herb, you can play!' Getting a compliment like that, at that age? Boy, you got your wings."

Mr. Carnegie died Friday in a Toronto hospital, his daughter Bernice Carnegie said.

Born on Nov. 8, 1919, the son of Jamaican parents who met and married in Canada, Mr. Carnegie was raised in a northern suburb of Toronto. They were the only black family in the neighborhood, Mr. Carnegie recalled, but hockey helped ease the racial divide.

Compact at 5 feet 8 inches and 160 pounds, he straightened his hair and wore a sliver of a mustache. He earned a reputation as a playmaking center, a dipsy-doodler of a stickhandler who liked to put the puck between a defender's legs and go around him.

When he and his older brother Ossie started their careers, no blacks played in the NHL. Conn Smythe, the Toronto Maple Leafs' owner, watched Mr. Carnegie skate and, the story goes, said, "I'll give $10,000 to anyone who can turn Herb Carnegie white."

The Carnegie brothers heard racist slurs from the stands in the small towns of the Canadian mining leagues.

"You learned to play on," Mr. Carnegie said last month in a telephone interview.

They graduated to the Quebec Provincial League, a notch or two below the NHL, and teamed with Manny McIntyre, a winger/enforcer from New Brunswick. The presence of three black players on the same line was a gate attraction and a headline writer's dream. They became known as les Noirs, the Black Aces, the Dusky Speedsters.

When fans watched them, Mr. Carnegie said, "their reaction was, 'There's three of them?' "

They were more than a novelty act, with Mr. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.