Damon Kwame Mason, a talented filmmaker and good friend, is as passionate about minorities in hockey as I am – if not more.
He gave his all to produce and direct “Soul on Ice, Past, Present & Future,” an award-winning black hockey history documentary. Now Kwame is giving his all to push for the inductions of Willie O’Ree, the National Hockey League’s first black player, and Herb Carnegie, a black man who the late hockey legend Jean Beliveau called one of the best players not to play in the NHL, into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
On a day the Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2017, Kwame wrote a passionate Facebook post laying out the case for letting O’Ree and Carnegie into hockey’s shrine. Below is his eloquent and thoughtful post:
As most of you know I made the documentary Soul On Ice: Past, Present & Future which is about the history and contributions of black athletes in hockey, the subject of diversity and inclusion in the game has become something that I am passionate about and as a fan of the game I have taken it on my back to do my part to help grow this beautiful game. I don’t have a huge platform but I feel like I am doing ok and hope it will grow. I still am blessed to be able to screen the film for audiences and on special occasions with the support of the NHL I get to be apart of q&a’s with guys like Willie O’ree and Bryce Salvador. I feel like since the film has come out I have a new purpose and I will do what ever I can to make sure minority children all around the WORLD (yeah I think big lol) gives the beautiful game of Hockey a chance. With that being said here’s something I wanted to run by you all.
HOCKEY HALL OF FAME 2018
I will try not to make this a long rant but if it is my apologies in advance.
The HOF class of 2017 has been inducted this past Monday and I would like to congratulate all the new members as they are all well deserved.
But I’d like to speak about two men that I feel have been deserving of this honour for a very long time. The two men I speak of are Herbert H Carnegie and Willie O’ree.
You can make it into the Hall Of Fame as either a player or a builder of the game. Mr. Carnegie did not have a chance to play in the NHL and Mr. O’ree did not have a huge impact on the game to be put into the Player category. But they can and should be inducted as Builders and here is why.
Willie O’ree has worked with the NHL for 30 years in there Diversity Task Force. The program was put together to help introduce and give opportunities to play Hockey directing their efforts to under privileged children in the United States. The program started out small, 5 in total, 30 years later there are over 30 in North America. Willie flies around the country countless amounts of times to give speeches, and visits these children to inspire them to not just continue and love the game of hockey but to get an education and be good people. I have witness the long lines, long stares and countless questions about that history making day when he entered the National Hockey League. Needless to say at the age of 82 years old, that’s right 82 years old he still gets on a plane when ever asked and continues to speak and promote the game of hockey to minorities all over the county. THAT IN MY OPINION IN BUILDING THE GAME.
Herbert H Carnegie on the ice was considered one of the best to play the game in his era. He had a 17 year long career starting in 1938 and ending in 1954. Hall of fame inductee Jean Beliveau had the opportunity to have Herb as a mentor and has stated in the past that Herb should have played in the NHL because he was just that good. Having to watch his peers go on to have careers in the NHL Herb held his head high and continued to win scoring titles and MVP awards. He lead his pro teams to 4 different championships, voted MOST VALUABLE PLAYER 3 YEARS IN A ROW 1947, 1948 and 1949. Again, even though he was the best leagues just below the NHL he was never given the change to play in the big leagues.
But that is not what this is about. This is about why he should be inducted as a builder in the 2018 HOF class.
Herb played centre to the first All Black line in semi pro hockey inspiring future black players that heard or seen them play like Willie Oree. After his career was over he established the FUTURE ACES HOCKEY SCHOOL in 1958, THE FIRST REGISTERED HOCKEY SCHOOL in Canada. As an inventor Mr Carnegie created a hockey instructional board called the Carnegie System (later called Coach a Boy which you can see used by coaches to this day). As an inventor he created a hockey game called PASS AND SCORE endorsed by legendary coach Punch Imlach and and Hall of fame member Frank Mahovlich. The FUTURE ACES philosophy he developed for the Hockey school has become a tool to build character in public schools all across Canada. In 1990 Herb Carnegie was featured in Marvel Comics Spider Man as he helped the web slinger fight off criminals trying to ship drugs in Hockey pucks. Lastly Herb Carnegie carries the Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth Diamond, Golden, and Silver Jubilee Medal. He has been inducted into 9 sports hall of fames across Canada… when will he have his day in the biggest one.
So with that being said, I would like to figure out a way to get an online petition going to with at least 100,000 signatures that I can hand in to the Hall Of Fame gatekeepers to get these in as they are well deserving and MAN OH MAN how BIG WOULD THAT BE FOR THE GAME OF HOCKEY. It would say so much and would go a long way to the idea of HOCKEY IS FOR EVERYONE.
Please leave a comment and any suggestions you may have on how I should go about this mission.
p.s I reached out to Hall of Fame member Luc Robitaille about inducting Herb Carnegie into this years class with a 17 page outline on why Herb should be inducted. Obviously it was not enough, this year I want to add a petition to it and include Willie O’ree
Have a great day and let me know what you think and I would also love your help.
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