Herb Carnegie may or may not have been granted consideration for membership in the Hockey Hall of Fame when nominations closed.
But either way, he will not spend every waking hour wondering whether reparations for one of hockey's most shameful injustices are under way.
"I cannot allow myself to hope for this recognition," Carnegie said from his Toronto home yesterday, about 12 hours after the deadline for this year's nominations to the hall. "It is entirely out of my hands, but it would be a great honour if such a recognition was extended to me."
Former National Hockey League referee Red Storey and former NHL player Brian Conacher, with support from Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau, have mounted an intense lobbying effort on Carnegie's behalf.
His supporters are optimistic that at least one member of the 18-person nomination committee will put Carnegie's name forward. However, the names of the nominees are not made public. Only the names of inductees are announced, and that's not done until June.
Interest in Carnegie's nomination was sparked by Montreal Immigration Court Judge Richard Lord, the first black man to play National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey when he was captain of Michigan State in 1949.
Lord started the campaign, which would have Carnegie inducted in the builder's category for his work with underprivileged children. Carnegie began North America's first hockey school in 1952 and has taught thousands of underprivileged children the fundamentals of the game.
He has also devoted many years to his Future Aces program in Toronto schools. He established monthly awards for well-rounded students and more than 75 schools in Toronto participate in the program, which is operated by Carnegie, his wife Audrey and daughter Bernice.
He is being pushed for the builder's category because the player's route was denied to him because he is black. During his prime hockey years in the 1940s and 1950s, Carnegie was passed over repeatedly by teams in the NHL.
He spent those years in the Quebec provincial and senior leagues, with his brother Ossie and Mannie McIntyre. They were known as the All-Coloured Line. Those who played with and against Herb Carnegie, including Béliveau -- his teammate on the Quebec Aces -- said he would have been a star in the NHL.
The view is shared by Storey, who officiated many of Carnegie's games in the Quebec leagues.
Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe said in the early 1940s that he would pay $10,000 to the man who could turn Carnegie white. Apparently it did not occur to Smythe to persuade his fellow owners to do the honourable thing and admit Carnegie. Willie O'Ree broke the NHL's colour barrier in 1958.
Even today there are people connected with the NHL who are loath to admit that racism kept Carnegie and others out of the league.
But he has no doubt about the matter.
"I think the exclusion from a tryout when I was in my premium years, the idea of taking players on my team or in my league whose records weren't as good as my own was very unpleasant," Carnegie said.
He also feels his record as one of the game's teachers is worthy of consideration.
"If the current members of the committee cannot consider that aspect of what really happened; and if they cannot take into consideration that I believe I started the first hockey school in perhaps the world; if the teaching of hockey fundamentals is not being a builder of the game, then I do not know what is," Carnegie said. "It comes down to what they feel and what their own motives are. It's a judgment call."
One honour will be coming his way soon. On May 2, the name of the North York Centennial Arena will be changed to the Herbert H. Carnegie Centennial Arena.
Carnegie was nominated for the hall last year by former Toronto Star columnist Jim Proudfoot. But not long after the nomination, Proudfoot fell ill and was unable to argue Carnegie's case with the committee.
Ill health forced Proudfoot to step down from the committee, which placed a nomination for this year in doubt.
However, Storey and Conacher worked the telephones furiously this week and were hopeful one committee member would do the right thing.
Carnegie is now 81 and has lost his eyesight to glaucoma. But he said he still makes it out to Toronto schools three times a week to talk of his experiences and promote the Future Aces program.