Yesterday was my first time visiting the Herbert Carnegie Arena in north Toronto. It was also the first time I heard of Herb Carnegie, one of the greatest hockey players of all time.
You can already take a good guess why you’ve never heard the name Herb Carnegie in any conversation about Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard or Jean Beliveau. Born to Jamaican parents, Carnegie managed to achieve huge success in the Quebec provincial league, playing for Sherbrooke and Quebec City, even winning the MVP award 3 times.
But in 1950’s Canada, skin colour would prove to be a barrier to Carnegie ever being given a real chance to play in the NHL. Thankfully, the Carnegie Arena pays tribute to, and chronicles the history of Herb’s career. By most accounts, he would have had a fair chance to play in the NHL if not for the racist and discriminatory views of the hockey establishment that prevailed at the time.
Remarkably, after having the door shut on him in pro hockey, Herb Carnegie went on to give back to his community, starting a hockey training school for youth and a charitable foundation.
Subsequently, his community work and devotion to sports was recognized numerous times, including being named to the Order of Ontario in 1996, inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and named to the Order of Canada in 2003. Carnegie passed away in 2012, and you can read about his life’s work in detail at the Herbert H. Carnegie foundation website.
Better, yet, visit the Herb Carnegie arena yourself. It’s on the north side of Finch Ave West, just west of Bathurst. Take time to see the many old news articles, hockey stories, photos and accomplishments of this great Canadian. If you never heard of Herb Carnegie before, you’ll never forget him after this.
Mike Chopowick – March 26, 2017
herb carnegie, Hockey, nhl
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