Guest blogger: Anthony M

78

In keeping with Carp’s countdown theme, we have 42 days to opening night.  With apologies to Mariano Rivera and the five Rangers who wore it (Artem Anisimov, Paul Fenton, Dave Marcinyshyn, Greg Moore and John Tripp), the most famous #42 belongs to Jackie Robinson.

Hockey fans know that Willie O’Ree became the first black player in the NHL, but what fans don’t know is how the Rangers had, not one, but two chances to break the color barrier a decade earlier.  The Blueshirts invited Herb Carnegie to training camp prior to the start of the 1948-49 season.  Herb, along with brother Ossie and linemate Manny McIntyre, formed the Black Aces – a line that dominated the semi-pro Quebec Senior Hockey League.

In his book “Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey”, Cecil Harris offers up Hall of Fame referee Red Storey’s opinion on Carnegie.

“Herbie was the leader [of the Black Aces].  They couldn’t have gone anywhere without Herb,” Storey related to Harris.  “He was good enough to play in the NHL.  It was strictly color, not talent, that kept him out.”

Another example of Carnegie’s talent is detailed in a quote allegedly offered by Toronto boss (and original Rangers’ GM) Conn Smythe who supposedly said, “I will gladly give $10,000 to anyone who can turn Herb Carnegie white.”

It is unknown if Smythe really did utter that quote or a similar one where Smythe allegedly stated, “He said he’d take you tomorrow if he could turn you white.”

The Rangers appeared ready to follow a plan similar to the Dodgers by starting Carnegie off in the minors before bringing him up to the NHL.  Unfortunately, Carnegie balked at this plan and Harris quotes a 1973 Toronto Sun article where Herb explains his reasoning.

“I missed the NHL by the stroke of a pen. Frankie Boucher was coaching the New York Rangers in 1948, and he told me he thought I was a good player, but he wanted to be sure whether I could play in the NHL. So he suggested I sign and start playing in New Haven. I was 29 (actually 28) at the time and I didn’t feel like playing there. For in those days there were not too many 30-year-old players in the NHL, and I knew that if I didn’t make it immediately, I wouldn’t get another chance.”

The Rangers actually made three minor league offers with their final option being a $4,700 contract to play in New Haven.  That offer was only $400 less than what Carnegie earned playing semi-pro hockey in Quebec.  Harris noted that the NHL minimum was $5,000 so Herb could have been on par with his Quebec League salary had he made the NHL.

While one can understand why Carnegie would be slow to trust any NHL team given Smythe’s alleged statements, it is possible that he might have made the Rangers opening night roster anyway.

The Blueshirts top two centers were among four players injured in a car accident six days prior to the start of the season.  With Buddy O’Connor and Edgar Laprade injured, Carnegie could have gotten his chance at the NHL sooner rather than later – a point Carnegie lamented some 50 years later.

“I have to take to my grave that lost opportunity,” Carnegie explained to Sherry Ross in a February 1998 Daily News article.

While the Rangers were unable to integrate the NHL in 1948, they were the first NHL team to sign a black player – Art Dorrington in 1950.

“A friend of mine in Nova Scotia got me a tryout with a team in New Milford, Conn., so I gave it a try,” Dorrington related to John McGourty of NHL.com in August 2008. “The Rangers asked me if I would like to play for the New York Rovers, their affiliate in the Eastern Hockey League. The team was on the road so I walked around New York City for a couple of days. I was getting homesick and bored and wanted to go back to Connecticut, so the Rangers told me to go play a week for the Atlantic City Sea Gulls and they’d take a look at me there. I did well in my tryout and the coach asked if I could finish the season there and I did.”

Unfortunately for Dorrington, his career was shattered in 1957 when he suffered a broken leg 11 games into his return to the EHL after missing a year due to military service.  He made one final EHL comeback during in 1960, but retired for good after five games.

Please visit my Ranger Ramblings Blog (http://www.rangerramblings.com/) which is hosted by NY Sports Day (http://www.nysportsday.com/).

— Anthony Mastantuoni

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78 Comments

  1. ZzZz NYR ZzZz "Go Rangers !!! ...says Greg L. on

    wow , very interesting Anthony . Thats the kinda stuff we wanna hear. Original and pure Ranger old Archive stuff . This post is one of the better ones by far.

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  3. Anthony, thanks for your informative post. It was a great read. Just tried to go to your site, but it came up as an attack site, so i did not go any further.

    Greggy, congrats on the trifecta today. you got up early (or never went to sleep) to pull off that trick!

    Blaze, just registered my vote! And if you guys don’t mind, I’d like to post up a cause… my daughter is doing a fundraising walk for Leukemia & Lymphoma in October. If you wouldn’t mind taking a look at her fundraising page, and if you could possibly donate a little, we’d appreciate it very much!! The link follows:

    *http://pages.lightthenight.org/ma/Worcestr10/KThomas*

    #42 Ronnie Lott

  4. I know there has been some trouble accessing my site, especially via Firefox. I have accessed via Internet Explorer without any problems. We are looking into it and I hope everyone will take a look down the road.

  5. great news anthony. I tried to access from Mozilla, but will hop on to Explorer and check it out! OY, just tried on IE and got a warning page also! This one goes into more detail, saying the last time they visited and what was lurking.

  6. Good morning Anthony ( yeah I did get some sleep last night for about 4-5 hours…to go now.

    As to your statement about the black player angle, back in the early 50’s there was a league that encompassed not only the New YOrk venue, but there were teams in that old ECHL that had the Boston Olympics, the New York Rovers They wore identical uniforms to the Rangers, except that the color patterns were reversed..where the Ranger’s show blue, they showed red, and vice versa. They played Sunday afternoons and often when the Rangers played on Sunday night, we’d come down and see both games. I don’t recall all of the teams in that league but they were far flung. Atlantic City Sea Gulls, the Boston ( the Pics), The Grand Rapids Rockets,
    ( I think that’s their name) and possibly the Johnstown Jets, and the Washington Admirals, and I believe that Philly had a team in that league but can’t recall the team name. It was good hockey and the Sea Gulls had an outstanding black players named Art Dorrington. He could be playing today in the NHL
    he was that good. Man those were fun times at the old Garden.

    Boston had a big defenseman named Don Perry who went on to become the playing coach of the New Haven Blades in the resurrected EHL.. I don’t believe that a tougher player ever played this game than Don Perry.

  7. Good morning, boneheads!

    Great, great post, Anthony! Thank you! I didn’t know any of that.

    Blaze- done. It’s a very, very rare disease, not much is being developed in terms of treatment. Good luck to your friend.

    Linda- :-)

  8. And I thought businessmen only saw the color green? Sad.

    On a lighter note…I am reminded of a SNL weekend update from way back when Tim meadows did a bit about hockey fever catching on in the black community. I just remember him saying something to the effect of “skate fast Jeff beukeboom”. I just tried finding it on YouTube with no luck. Anybody remember this skit? I almost want to say it was during the season that must not be named (’94)

  9. Re: Jeff beukeboom

    I mentioned before that my dad never liked hockey although he was nice enough to take my younger brother and I down to our first MSG game on a bus trip. I’d have to google for the date but I am pretty sure it was one of, if not the first game back in NHL for Mario from cancer. Messier punched out kasparitis’ tooth and the rangers won. Atleast that’s how I remember it but that’s not the point, I was talking about beukeboom…so back to my dad who could care less about hockey. The one name he knew was beukeboom and he would always overly pronounce it as Jeff boo-key-boom and he thought this was extremely funny. So that’s my story and now I will get on the web to see what the details of that game were.

  10. ILB, you are one absolutely amazing individual! I love ya bro! I am saying thank you now, I am sure my daughter will respond also.

  11. hey everyone, just a heads up:

    Ron Greschner is at a street fair on Amsterdam Ave @78th street in a booth selling memorabilia from his Greschner Sports company.

    Auto’d jerseys, sticks, pucks, helmets, footballs, photographs, etc.

    he’s cool and there till 6PM.

    Heading back down there to make a purchase myself…

  12. wicky (Our D is SOFT and give Prust an A!!!!) on

    morning ILB and all!!!

    anthony
    wow, really awesome post, thanks!

    linda
    ILB is quite the international man of mystery isn’t he!!

    also, linda beat me to ronnie lott….show off!!!!

    Who was first today??

  13. Number 42 – Sergei Makarov

    If he had more time in the NHL, he could have been one of the all-time North American professional hockey greats. As it is, he had a very solid seven seasons playing in North America for the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks, as well as very briefly with the Dallas Stars.

    In 424 regular season games, Makarov racked up 384 points, of which 250 were assists. After the 1989-90 NHL season, his rookie campaign, Makarov would become one of the oldest players to ever win the Calder Memorial Trophy, at the ripe old age of 31. He merely put up 86 points that season (24 goals and 62 assists), to go along with a 33 in the plus/minus column.

    For the 1990-91 NHL season, Makarov led the league in shooting percentage with a 32.3% mark.

    Although it may not have been a long NHL career, it was a bright one.

    Did you know……….Makarov won two golds and a silver medal for the Soviet Union in the Olympics?

    http://www.bestbythenumbers.com/2010/06/nhl-number-42-sergei-makarov.html

  14. sorry wicky, i was up earlier than you today.

    trying to sell a car in Alabama is hilarious. He’s asking $700 less than current Kelley blue book value, the engine runs great, the transmission runs great, for a 10 year old car it’s in fine shape, tires and battery are less than a year old, brand new water pump, but people are scared off because the cd player does not work! LMAO, these people are desperate for a car, but won’t buy it because the cd player does not work!!!! because the cd player is more essential than an engine and transmission!

  15. carp, lmao!! naw they were about 13 years old, 2 red headed twins hangin out in the electronics department. both weird lookin dudes and both looked just like mini henrik and daniel or proclaimers. either or.

  16. i heard greschner on the jim and eddie( mouth) radio show, blueshirt banter i think. hes a funny guy. where is that big cuppycake mouth anyway???

  17. linda, i find that anywhere but ny, people are much different and have different priorities. an example would be in iowa, almost like the young girls are pre programmed cyborgs, that when they reach the ripe age of 16, 17, or even the old age of 18, they feel the need to marry, breed like rabbits, and then go on welfare. i have never seen so many young girls with kids that look as old to be their sisters!! its crazy. its like romper room.

  18. hey wick,ilb,cccp,everybody!!. where is everyone? greg? crtim? nasty,mako? i hope to see some more regulars here when the season starts. i havent been on here much either. any news on staal??? jeez this is getting ridiculous

  19. CCCP- Makarov-Larionov-Krutov was one of the best troikas of all time.

    Linda- buy a new CD player, raise the price by $700. It’ll go in a heartbeat. Hey, whatever those Alabama people want.

    Who are those “other” people you’re all talking about?

  20. wicky (Our D is SOFT and give Prust an A!!!!) on

    grabby
    that isn’t just in IA, it is everywhere. I worked with a lady that was 31 and had three kids, the oldest being 15 and the youngest 10. I’m not sure if it is just bad parenting or if it is also the technology of today and access to everything and everyone? Either way it pretty nerve racking as a parent. Fine line between letting them learn and gain knowledge through failure and trying things and being over protective.

  21. wick, if u have seen the crap kids watch especially mtv nowadays, its like theyre promoting that type of behavior.also, most “popular” music nowadays is also about superficial bs.

  22. Good afternoon all! Another day in paradise here in NY.

    rob…sob! if I’d know that earlier I’d have been on the train. Did you stop by?

    4ever, from yesterday, that was an amazing post, and don’t apologize. (Not shocked that fran came in with a follow up :)

    those kinds of posts are a big part of what makes this blog tremendously tremendous, seriously.

  23. Alert, non-hockey related, but since I don’t have sister blog anymore :( and Carp said I could post stuff like this!

    Because of former sister blog, I get (still) a ton of books written by pet owners who write memoirs about their fab dogs and how it changed their lives. I’m a writer and a reader, and to be honest, most of them ain’t all that.

    Except for this one. “Last Dog on the Hill” by Steve Duno. Had a most profound affect on me. Amazing dog, amazing writer, all around amazing story. It’s hard to find now cause it’s in its last printing, but if a couple hundred more get bought, it will get a second one.

    I’ve gotten to know Steve through FB. I love this guy. This video doesn’t tell the whole story, but if you read the book, it will bring tears to your eyes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wysF4e1rmTU

    I plugged this on sister blog a while back — (pets.lohudblogs.com/2010/04/16/last-dog-on-the-hill and pets.lohudblogs.com/2010/04/19/last-dog-on-the-hill-part-2 ) — but since that’s dead (for now) I promised Steve I’d plug elsewhere.

    Sorry for long post. But RR pet people, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for reading :)

  24. Laurel,
    Thanks for encouragement. Means a lot to me.
    Sorry, but now, when you can figure out my age, you will understand why I never call you mama and even Blogmama (just can’t…)- being 26 you’re too young…LOL

  25. cccp

    I mentioned that line about 6-7 posts ago, as the best all time line I’ve ever seen. They were like magicians on the ice, and even Krutov whom I heard rumor that he never saw a hot dog that he didn’t buy, and ate himself out of the league. True? False?
    And didn’t that entire line play for the Wings?

  26. 4ever, not a problem! Funny thing about blogs…aside from ORR and fran, obvious :) you never really know how old people are here. I think of us all as being 26!

    and Anthony M….my bad for not saying this first. Awesome post! An under-discussed issue and great history. Well done!

  27. Nice post, love history especially when its hockey related. Found it “funny” I guess the phrase black aces. Made me think of Eddie Olczyk & the Black Aces, who hardly ever played but where always ready.

    I can’t remember off the top of my head the rest of them. Im pretty sure they are name in a small little bit on the ’94 championship VHS, yes DVD wasnt around back then.

  28. fran

    break d0wn a six pack [2 guys 3 pockets each].Buy a huge
    Itlian wedge.Go down early[57 years westchester cty].
    pay*******1.25******and sit at railing in balcony.

    Fran you just made me smile!!!!!

  29. very good linda. in the on ice cup photo, u see lidster,kypreos,ilbzo and i guess hartman. was jay wells still there? i cant remeber.

  30. speaking of chats…are we gonna do a live chat before the season?

    New idea for the poll… will the league reject new devils contract proposal?

  31. me and 3cpo will hold torts down while u tell him” hey tortsy, you like to say alot of stuff and u dont really know what youre talkin about” and then after that, we’ll sic greg on him and then he’ll have to change his smurf underwear as often as he changes line combos.

  32. actually, if we sic greg on him, it’ll be like setting snarf from thundercats on him. well send fran to take care of him. fran will talk him silly

  33. wicky (Our D is SOFT and give Prust an A!!!!) on

    hit enter too soon, so I have laureled……but for an extremely good point…..still on post of 42 days so Pat Tillman’s number at ASU….#42. The greatest human being ever to wear a #42! RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!!

  34. haha great pic ilb!

    youre gonna make me relapse!, i was workin my way down to oranges, and now im off the wagon. thanks pal

  35. Great post Anthony.

    I love hockey history. Great story, and it is a chapter of Hockey history that is missing from my collection. I am gonna hit amazon today.

    Great post.

    Thanks

  36. Just a quick bit of fluff that your salty NYer repartee reminded me of… good guy, big tall hombre from NY… had the bunk across from me, in barracks………when we worked the radio station it was all shift work, 3 days 8-4 3 days 4-12 3 days mid watch 12-8AM. Then we got 3 days off.The mid watch was always murder trying to sleep in the day time, and there was a hissy fit little jerk that they made barracks chief who would come around to see if any body was sleeping in. And when you pulled the mid watch, you went to late chow the night before about 11: 30 cause you’d be too tired to eat when you got off.( This was called Mid – rats) Short for rations) They would give us little signs that said MID WATCH on them and we’d hang them on the front of our bunks. But this guy would go around collecting them
    if there was no one in the bunk – but some times the guys would have to use the head).

    One morning when me and this Long Island guy ( let’s call him Gruber) hit the rack and fell sound asleep. All of a sudden this terrific noisey little dope comes around, goes over Gruber’s bunk grabs him by the shoulder and wakes him up. “What’s your name? What are you doing here?”

    Gruber jumps up out of bed in a rage, ( big guy) “How the hell am I supposed to know what my name is – you went and took my sleep in sign away!”

    From a sound sleep I wound up laughing my head off, ..NY response(.

    When we held our reunion I finally found Gruber’s name in the phone book, called him, but he couldn’t make it due to family illness, but he wished he could. He retired as I believe a Captain of the NY Police Dept.

  37. Morning all!

    Anthony M- wonderful, informative post. I love learning history about my fav team, so thanks!

    42- the number every major leaguer wears on Jackie Robinson Day

    And for today,

    41- the ‘Franchise’ Tom Seaver

  38. Orty! Loved him as a Ranger. He and Hollwegg had such an odd ‘bromance’ thing going for awhile. Even though I dislike that word.

  39. Joekuh - still playing NHL '94... on

    Great post, Anthony. GM fellow boneheads! #41 Terrence Newman for the….well, that footall team that plays down south or something…

  40. iLB

    I don’t really remember them it’s just that every once in a while someone says something that reminds me of an instance that was amusing. There were numerous incidents that occurred amongst “single Marines living in barracks,” and like Rudyard Kipling related in his poem about “Tommy” the iconic
    British soldier “But single men in barracks don’t grow into plaster Saints.”

    I’ve got to admit to you…we had some real screwballs, and some of them were Officers. ( And I flew with two of them…tell you about them some day..)

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