On today’s date in 1996, Ottawa native Steve Yzerman scored his 500th career goal to help his Detroit Red Wings defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2.
Almost halfway through the second period, with Detroit leading 1-0, winger Greg Johnson fed Yzerman with a pass in the slot. Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy saved the initial wrist shot, but Yzerman’s offensive prowess allowed him to net a backhander for his 500th career goal.
It was his 906th regular-season game; only 10 players scored as many goals in as few games as Yzerman. He was only the 22nd player in NHL history to score 500 goals.
“We had a great rivalry at the time – Patrick was one of the top goaltenders in the league at the time – it was nice to get the goal against a Hall of Fame goaltender,” Yzerman said after the game.
“I guess I would just say it was a special goal and a significant milestone. It was something that accumulates over the course of time, and you don’t put a ton of thought into it until you get close to it.”
Yzerman was a nine-time All-Star who played in 1,514 regular-season NHL games and another 196 playoff contests over 22 seasons—all of them with the Detroit Red Wings.
He scored 692 goals and 1,063 assists for 1,755 career points. He was named team captain at age 21 and became the longest-serving captain in the history of the NHL (with 19 seasons). He led the Wings to three Stanley Cup Championships (1997, 1998 and 2002).
In 2007, his #19 was retired and lifted to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
2016 ‘GREAT CANADIAN FORWARDS’ ISSUE
In September 2016, Canada Post honoured Yzerman in a six-stamp set alongside some of the NHL’s greatest goal-scorers to play between the 1960s and today.
The other stars included Phil Esposito (Boston Bruins); Guy Lafleur (Montreal Canadiens); Darryl Sittler (Toronto Maple Leafs); Mark Messier (Edmonton Oilers); and Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins).
“This talented group of star forwards has contributed to our national story beyond the goals they’ve scored and the trophies they’ve won,” said Deepak Chopra, then Canada Post president and CEO, at the 2016 unveiling. “They are heroes for what they stand for. They are men of honour and character and represent the best of who we are as Canadians.”
Available in a mixed booklet of six stamps containing all of this year’s lineup, each stamp measures 40 millimetres by 32 millimetres with simulated perforations, and are printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper with seven-colour lithography. The booklet front features a tightly cropped action shot of Lafleur and Sittler.
Oversized-rate hockey-card-size souvenir sheets were also issued in a pack of six. Each pack included a chance to win: one in 40 packs contained a signed and authenticated souvenir sheet.
A gummed mini-pane collectors’ item featuring all six players was also part of the 2016 release. The mini-pane features embossed, foiled logos of the team each player was best known for.
The official first-day covers – one for each player – were cancelled in the birthplaces of the respective player: Cranbrook, B.C. (Yzerman) Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Esposito); Thurso, Que. (Lafleur); Kitchener, Ont. (Sittler); Edmonton, Alta. (Messier); and Cole Harbour, N.S. (Crosby).
Limited-edition signed and numbered framed prints were also available for each player.