Herb Carnegie never played in the NHL. It wasn't for lack of ability, as he was considered one of the most talented players in Canada's semi-professional leagues from 1938-54. Rather, he and others believed it was because he was Black.
"He had a lot of roadblocks that were connected to racism," his daughter Bernice Carnegie told ESPN this week. "But he was so good at -- and I want to use a hockey term here -- stick-handling around things that got in his way. He had this spirit in him that said, 'I want to see change.'"
It's the spirit that has inspired The Carnegie Initiative, a just-announced, not-for-profit platform named in Herb Carnegie's honor. It seeks to promote the growth of hockey and ensure opportunity in the sport. What makes this effort unique is that it isn't tied to any hockey governing body; it's an independent initiative that will seek to tackle large issues in diversity while also being nimble enough to address specific community issues in a way that entities like the NHL cannot.
Bernice Carnegie co-chairs the organization with Bryant McBride, the NHL's first Black executive and co-producer of "Willie," the critically acclaimed documentary about hockey pioneer and Hall of Famer Willie O'Ree.
"There are so many efforts going on, both big and small, to help expand the game, and our goal is to shed light on those communities, as well as help those still being marginalized, change problems that exist. We will do it holistically and without any bias," McBride said.
Some big names in hockey have signed on to back The Carnegie Initiative. Board members include women's hockey pioneer Angela James, fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr, former NHL coach Ted Nolan, Canadian Olympian Sarah Nurse, broadcasters Ron MacLean and Harnarayan Singh, as well as Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke.
"We've made great strides," Burke told ESPN this week. "I'm optimistic for the first time in my adult life that we're physically seeing change. We're seeing BIPOC hiring in all sports at unprecedented levels. We've made tremendous progress, but it's far from over."
In short, the goal of The Carnegie Initiative is to advance change in the culture of hockey.
It will audit "governing bodies and other stewards of the game" to make sure their efforts are inclusive. It will be data-driven and academic, establishing and awarding grants to those who are doing work to address change in the sport in the U.S. and Canada. It will promote success stories from around the hockey world, from the grassroots to the board rooms, a balance that's important to Burke.
"It has to be a priority from the top and it has to be insisted upon by the grass roots. You need a push and a pull," he said. "A lot of it is because hockey was played exclusively by white men who went on to coach and then went on to be GMs. As the sport has diversified now, there are excellent candidates at every level."
What hockey people from diverse backgrounds need is an opportunity, which was something that players like Herb Carnegie weren't afforded during their playing days.
A Canadian of Jamaican descent, Carnegie was a legendary player outside the NHL. Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens famously called him one of the best skaters he ever played with, while both were with the semi-pro Quebec Aces. Herb Carnegie, his brother Ozzie and Manny McIntyre formed the first all-Black line in hockey, creating a sensation in Canada. Bernice Carnegie has press clippings that referred to the Carnegie brothers as "The Brown Bombers" and "The Dark Destroyers"; their line with McIntyre had them called "The Ink Spots" and "The Dusky Raiders" as nicknames.
Publicly, Herb Carnegie wasn't one to raise his frustrations about not getting opportunities to play pro hockey. But Bernice Carnegie admitted that he shared them with her privately through the years. "There were times that my father expressed his displeasure. But my mom and dad make a pact when he finished hockey that they wouldn't discuss the issues that he had, because they didn't want to taint us as kids into feeling that we couldn't achieve, that we couldn't make our goals. So we didn't talk a lot about racism back then and we didn't talk about it later. It was more about what we could do to make life better," she said. "He always had the next plan."
The next plan for Herb Carnegie was the Future ACES Hockey School, the first registered hockey school in Canada to teach hockey skills while emphasizing character development.
"It wasn't just about hockey. It was about how to be a good citizen in life," said Bernice Carnegie.
This is at the core of The Carnegie Initiative: Creating opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to learn from the game but, just as importantly, improve hockey through their own experiences.
"It just makes sense that you would want everybody to be included. So that you could participate and learn from the best. When you exclude people, you're actually cutting yourself off from the opportunity to learn and grow. You're limiting who you could be," she said.
The Carnegie Initiative may help grow the legend of Herb Carnegie. He's in 13 different halls of fame, but has yet to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, despite having strong credentials for the "builder" category.
"Every time I speak about my father, the feeling for him is stronger and stronger. It's hard not to be proud of a man who was so committed to making the world better than when he found it," said Bernice Carnegie.
Colorado Avalanche lose third-period lead, then Game 5 in overtime to put season on brink
DENVER -- After coughing up a 2-0 third-period lead at home, the Colorado Avalanche are on the brink of elimination.
Vegas captain Mark Stone scored 10 seconds into overtime of Game 5 on Tuesday, and the Golden Knights earned a 3-2 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. The Golden Knights can clinch the series with a Game 6 win at home on Thursday.
Historically, when a best-of-seven series is tied at two games apiece, the winner of Game 5 wins out 78.8% of the time.
"We don't have much time to do much but rebound," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We have to go into Vegas and play hockey; it's as simple as that."
It has been an inconsistent series for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Avs, with coach Jared Bednar calling out the team's effort after Game 3.
"We were cooking in Game 1, we started out great in Game 2 and then it got hard," Bednar said. "Vegas started playing their game. It's not the regular season. It's not the [St. Louis] Blues, for that matter. It's Vegas. Our game needed to be dialed up to a point where you need to win against Vegas. We weren't there."
Bednar was much happier with the team's performance in Game 4, despite losing 5-1. And on Tuesday, Bednar was once again pleased with his team's effort.
"I'd say, I loved the way we played. I loved it," Bednar said. "We are the aggressors, we were on our toes, we were playing to win the hockey game, we played to our identity. Even in the third period, I had no problems with it. Except for the turnovers. I didn't think we had a lot of turnovers tonight, but we had three that I know led to goals against."
Trailing 2-0 entering the third, the Golden Knights got on the board when Alex Tuch scored 1:03 into the period, taking advantage of an Andre Burakovsky turnover. Jonathan Marchessault scored just three minutes later, capitalizing off of an errant Avs pass in their own offensive zone.
Vegas has been a tough place to play for visiting teams -- especially now that the Knights have welcomed back their full capacity of more than 18,000 fans. The Avs split the regular-season series in Vegas but lost Games 3 and 4 of this series in front of a full house.
Bednar's message to his team heading into the hostile environment: "Go do it again and eliminate a couple of those plays."
"I told them that's exactly how you have to play in order to win against Vegas," Bednar said. "And you have to do it again."
Before Tuesday, the Avalanche hadn't lost a game at home since March 27, a 13-game winning streak that spanned the regular season and playoffs.
Bednar made some significant adjustments to his lineup in Game 5. After his star top line of Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen dried up offensively -- they combined for six goals in the first two games of the series, then just one over the next two -- the coach mixed things up.
Brandon Saad replaced Landeskog on the top line, and the new combination paid immediate dividends, with Saad scoring with 0.8 seconds remaining in the first period to give the Avs a 1-0 lead. At 5-on-5, the new top line had a 3-1 edge in high danger chances and 66 expected goals for percentage.
The new second line, featuring Landeskog, J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin, was equally strong at even strength, with a 5-1 edge in high danger chances and 87 expected goals for percentage.
"I don't care if it's home or the road, and I don't know if our guys do, either," Bednar said. "There's no reason we can't get the job done in Vegas."
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning continue to play like champions, eliminating Carolina Hurricanes with shutout
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Andrei Vasilevskiy was at his best again with the Tampa Bay Lightning in position to close out a playoff series.
Throw in a couple of timely goals from Brayden Point and Ross Colton, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions are a step closer to playing for another title.
Vasilevskiy posted his third straight shutout in a series-clinching victory, helping the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Tuesday night to win the second-round series in five games.
Point's power-play goal -- which followed a huge save from Vasilevskiy -- put Tampa Bay up in the second period, then Colton scored in the third. That was more th
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