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Herb Carnegie

One of the top NHL prospects of the 1940s, racism sidelined the career of Herb Carnegie. But that didn’t stop him from giving back.

Photograph of Herb Carnegie smiling

(Image Source: www.hockeydb.com)

Since 1893, thousands have competed for the right to have their name on the Stanley Cup. But one legendary hockey player never got the opportunity to do so. During the 1940s, Toronto-born Herbert Carnegie emerged as one of the rising stars in professional hockey, but as a black man, NHL teams, including the Maple Leafs, refused to sign him on the basis of race.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Carnegie grew up playing pond hockey in Willowdale. He eventually played junior A hockey for the Toronto Young Rangers, where legendary Leafs coach claimed that he would sign him “tomorrow” if he weren’t black.

The decision left Carnegie “shattered”, but he did end up playing for a semi-pro team in Quebec—with two other over-achieving black hockey players and future NHL hall-of-famer Jean Beliveau.

Herb holding his hockey stick on a skating rink and smiling

(Image Source: thecanadianencyclopedia.net)

despite these major setbacks, Carnegie ended up founding Future Aces, a successful hockey school that teaches character building and overcoming unfair treatment.

As part of his work with the Future Aces and the surrounding community, he founded the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces foundation, which has since gifted over $630,000 in scholarships. He also became the first black financial advisor at Investors Group and pursued a career as a golfer for at local clubs and for the Canadian Senior Tour, which he won in 1977 and 1978.

He has since received the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada, has been inducted into 13 sports hall of fames, and is still considered one of the greatest players to “never play in the NHL”.

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