Canada Post drops puck on NHL season with scores of stamps, products

Canada Post has unveiled a massive series of National Hockey League (NHL) stamps honouring all seven current Canadian teams: the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks.

The stamps were revealed Sept. 3, as the NHL’s training camps approach and fans start to anticipate a return to Canada’s favourite pro sport. However, in late August, a small number of jersey booklets appeared on online auction site eBay. The extensive program, supplemented by a selection on non-philatelic items, is built around seven stamps depicting an anonymous player in the foreground wearing the team’s home jersey. In each shot a fan is shown wearing an away jersey. Each of the seven stamps are sold in booklets of 10, with the cover showing the team logo enlarged from the stamp image.

For each team there is also an official first-day cover cancelled Sept. 3 in the team’s hometown, with a postmark in the form of a team logo. There are also seven postcards, one for each team using the same image as the cover, coin banks, and a coin and stamp set to be unveiled Oct. 8. Canada Post is also releasing coil stamps for each team. The coil stamps are all similar in design, with a close view of a puck emblazoned with the team logo. The coil stamps are sold in rolls of 50. There are also seven stamp dispensers in the form of a mailbox painted in team colours and logos. For each team, Canada Post is selling packs of two pens, refrigerator magnets, two key rings, one based on the jersey design and one on the logo, and a plaque showing the evolution of the team jersey over the years. There is no plaque for Winnipeg.

The logo stamps are also being offered in sets of seven strips of four stamps and seven strips of seven stamps. All seven of the stamps are on a souvenir sheet, and an eighth official first-day cover has the seven logo stamps with a Toronto cancel. Canada Post has also produced a pane containing all seven jersey stamps. The selvedge contains images of team logos and the NHL logo. Collectors can take advantage of several special offers, including sets of seven booklets, sets of seven postcards, and sets of seven OFDCs.

There is also an NHL collectors album containing a pane of jersey stamps, a team logo stamp souvenir sheet, collectible cards, a silver-plated reproduction of the Hart Trophy for the league’s most valuable player, and a 48-page booklet from the Hockey Hall of Fame. The production limit for the album is 10,000. All of the stamps were designed by Avi Dunkleman, working with Joseph Gault and Hockey Hall of Fame archivist Craig Campbell. Security printer Lowe-Martin of Ottawa produced all of the stamps. The jersey stamps were printed in lithography using seven colours for the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Oilers stamps; six colours for the Senators, Jets, and Canucks; and five colours for the Flames. All of the stamps were produced on Tullis Russell paper with general four-side tagging. The booklet stamps are self-adhesive with simulated perforations while the pane stamps are water-activated with 13-plus perforations.

All are permanent-rate domestic stamps for first-class postage in Canada. The number of stamps produced varies with teams: 2.8 million for Montreal and Toronto, 2.1 million for Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver; and 1.4 million for Winnipeg. A total of 250,000 jersey souvenir panes were produced. The coil stamps were also produced by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper with four-side tagging. However, in each case only four or five colours were used. Again, all stamps are permanent rate. The souvenir sheet stamps are water-activated with 13-plus perforations, while the coil versions are self-adhesive with simulated perforations.

One final offering is a group of seven framed prints, one for each team. Each print has a signed and authenticated photograph of a player from that team against a backdrop of the home jersey and block of six booklet stamps. The players chosen are Jean Beliveau, Montreal; Jason Spezza, Ottawa; Darryl Sittler, Toronto; Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg; Lanny McDonald, Calgary; Paul Coffey, Edmonton; and Trevor Linden, Vancouver. The NHL started in 1917, when team owners suspended the National Hockey Association and formed a new league. At that time, all the teams were based in Canada. The league expanded into the United States in 1924, later dropping from 10 to six teams, the famed Original Six: Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and Chicago Blackhawks.

In 1967 the league began expansion, first adding six new teams, followed by others in later years. In 1979 it absorbed the remaining teams of the rival World Hockey Association. Today the league has 30 teams. The first Canadian hockey stamp, issued in 1956, had a five-cent denomination and was engraved by Silas Robert Allen. In 1986, hockey was shown on one of the first two stamps to commemorate sports of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. The 34-cent stamp was issued se-tenant with another depicting biathlon. The sport re-appeared in 1992 with a 42-cent stamp, part of a five-stamp set issued to mark the Olympic Winter Games held that year in Albertville, France.

The NHL was honoured later in the same year with three stamps marking the 75th anniversary of the league. The stamps were on themes of the early years, Original Six years, and expansion years. Famous players and sports builders were shown on the selvedge of a prestige booklet issued for the event. Two hockey stamps were part of the 1999 Millennium series; both on the theme of Hockey Night in Canada. Since then, hockey stamps have become more frequent. In 2000, six stamps were issued for the 50th anniversary of the first NHL All-Star Game. At a time when it was unusual for living Canadians to be shown on stamps, six named players were shown: Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr, and Jacques Plante. Three of the players were alive at the time, but Canada Post said they were not being honoured specifically, but as images of the sport.

In 2001 a second set of six NHL players was released: Jean Beliveau, Terry Sawchuk, Eddie Shore, Denis Potvin, Bobby Hull, and Syl Apps. The series continued in 2002 with Tim Horton, Guy Lafleur, Howie Morenz, Glenn Hall, Red Kelly, and Phil Esposito; in 2003 with Frank Mahovlich, Ray Bourque, Serge Savard, Stan Mikita, Mike Bossy, and Bill Durnan; in 2004 with Larry Robinson, Marcel Dionne, Ted Lindsay, Johnny Bower, Brad Park, and Milt Schmidt; and in 2005 with Henri Richard, Grant Fuhr, Allen Stanley, Pierre Pilote, Bryan Trottier, and John Bucyk. Women’s hockey was honoured for the first time in 2002, with a 48-cent stamp issued for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.

In 2008 a stamp was issued to mark the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship held in Canada. A 2009 stamp marked the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens, while a set of three stamps used lenticular technology to replay the 500th goals of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Guy Lafleur. Sledge hockey was among the events depicted on the 2009 stamps marking the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Among the other stamps issued for that event was a stamp showing Olympic mascot Quatchi goaltending.

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