Dr. Dean Barnes (PhD)
Speaker | Podcast Host - My Hockey Hero | Creator - NHL Black Hockey Card Collection
Dean grew up collecting hockey cards when he was 7 years old with spare change his Dad gave him. Many of his teammates on his hockey team and friends from school collected cards together. Dean is a Black Canadian, who grew up in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and there were not many players on the ice who looked like him when he was a young rep hockey player. The first time he saw a Black player in the NHL was in 1982 when he saw Tony McKegney who played for the Buffalo Sabres. He and a friend were helping out at a Buffalo Sabres camp for kids and they earned tickets as part of their pay. Dean still loves getting out on the ice as an adult and playing the game he loves.
During the pandemic lockdown of March 2020, he completed his 1979-80 O-Pee Chee set from his childhood, which includes a Wayne Gretzky rookie card. He then embarked on a project to highlight Black history in the N.H.L. In August, 2021, he managed to collect the rookie cards of most of the nearly 100 Black and biracial players who have appeared in at least one NHL game. The collection includes a rookie card for Wille O'Ree, who became the League's first Black player on January,18, 1958, and features rookie cards of Hockey Hall of Famers like goalie Grant Fuhr and forward Jarome Iginla. It also includes the first African American born player, Val James. The challenge of completing the set, took him back to his days as a young child, and the nostalgia of collecting came back to him.
Dean also has created a podcast called ‘My Hockey Hero’ which has ranked as high as 14th on U.S. Apple Hockey Podcasts and 42nd on the Apple Hockey Podcasts in Canada. The podcast shares inspirational stories of Black NHL players with the goal of promoting representation and inclusion in the game of hockey. Dean’s work has garnered national media attention across Canada: Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Hockey News, NHL Sirius radio, Global TV Morning show, and Hamilton CHCH Morning Live. His hockey card collection has travelled across North America as part of the Black Hockey History mobile museum in 2022 and the United by Hockey museum in 2023.
Dean hopes his projects will change general perception of who plays hockey, and serve as an inspiration for Black children to see hockey as an option, and pursue their dreams of playing in the N.H.L.