On today’s date in 1928, Gordie Howe was born at a farmhouse in Floral, Sask., where he grew up with eight siblings.
Howe would later play for the Detroit Red Wings and Hartford Whalers, both of the National Hockey League (NHL), as well as the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. A four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, Howe also won six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player and six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer.
He’s also the only player to compete in the NHL in six different decades – including the 1940s through the 1980s and again in 1997 – and was the inaugural recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Howe was one of six legendary Canadian hockey players featured on a six-stamp souvenir sheet commemorating the 50th NHL All-Star Game, which was held Feb. 6, 2000, in Toronto.
Issued by Canada Post, each 46-cent stamp measures 42 millimetres by 42 millimetres while the sheet measures 160 millimetres by 204 millimetres. Printed on Tullis Russell Coatings paper, the sheet also features Wayne Gretzky, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr and Jacques Plante.
Combining canvas illustration and computer design, artists Dan Fell and Vincent McIndoe designed the stamps, which feature action vignettes depicting the players on the spotlighted ice surface. The all-star logo is flanked by vignettes of the silhouettes of Maple Leaf Gardens and the Air Canada Centre—the site of the first and 50th NHL All-Star Game, respectively. Each star in the row of five along the bottom of the souvenir sheet symbolizes ten years of All-Star match-ups.
“The challenge in this set was to convey both the excitement and the history of one of Canada’s national sports,” said Fell.
More recently, Canada Post unveiled its final instalment of the five-year NHL stamp collection at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Alongside Howe, the 2017 Canadian Hockey Legends issue includes Gretzky; Orr; Richard; Jean Béliveau; and Mario Lemieux.
As a group, the all-star lineup scored more than 9,500 points in almost 7,000 regular-season games, won 40 Stanley Cups – 30 as players and another 10 as management – and more than 80 individual awards.
Designed by Avi Dunkelman and Joe Gault, of the Toronto-based Mix Design Group, each new Canadian Hockey Legends stamp features a head-and-shoulders image of the respective uniformed player with an image of the Stanley Cup in the background. Hockey card souvenir sheets show the players holding the Cup and are only available in packs of six, like hockey cards.
“These players really changed the game of hockey forever. They’re some of the biggest stars the world of sports has ever seen, and they take centre stage in the final instalment of Canada Post’s five-year NHL stamp series,” said TSN hockey analyst James Duthie, who served as the emcee for the unveiling.
Available in a mixed booklet of six stamps containing all six players, the stamps measure 40 millimetres by 32 millimetres with simulated perforations and are printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper with seven-colour lithography.
On Oct. 26, 2014, Howe suffered a major stroke. He died two years later, on June 10, 2016, at the age of 88.