Canada Post Thursday, September 28, issued the final set of six stamps in its five-year series celebrating the first century of the National Hockey League and the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, the trophy emblematic of hockey supremacy.
The final group — Canadian Hockey Legends — celebrates players considered to be at the most elite level of Canadian hockey: Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Jean Béliveau, of the Montreal Canadiens; Gordie Howe, of the Detroit Red Wings; Bobby Orr, of the Boston Bruins; Mario Lemieux, of the Pittsburgh Penguins; and Wayne Gretzky, of the Edmonton Oilers. All are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The stamps were unveiled and issued in a formal ceremony Wednesday evening at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, a week before the NHL drops the puck on the 2017–18 season.
“The players we immortalized on this year’s stamps redefined hockey over careers that spanned more than 60 years,” said Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. “They inspired us — and each other — with feats that boggle the mind. They are the Ultimate Six.”
As a group, the all-star lineup scored more than 9,500 points in almost 7,000 regular-season games, won 40 Stanley Cup Championships — 30 as players and another 10 as management — and more than 80 individual awards.
Orr, Lemieux, and Gretzky are still living. Richard died at age 78 in 2000; Béliveau died in 2014 at age 83; Howe died at age 88 in 2016.
This is Lemieux’s first stamp from Canada, Orr’s third, and the second for each of the other four legends. Gretzky, Howe, Richard, and Orr all appear on stamps issued in 2000 for Canada’s 50th anniversary NHL All-Star Game (Scott 1838). Béliveau was honored the next year on a set of NHL Stars stamps (Scott 1885a). Orr appeared on an earlier stamp in this current series as part of the defensemen set issued in 2014.
Designed by Avi Dunkelman and Joe Gault for Mix Design Group of Toronto, each stamp features a head-and-shoulders image of the player in uniform, with the Stanley Cup image ghosted in the background.
Hockey-card souvenir sheets show the players holding the Cup; they are only available in packs of six, like hockey cards.
The 2017 NHL Canadian Hockey Legends issue builds on the NHL Team Jersey stamps released in 2013, the Original Six Defenseman stamps released in 2014, the NHL Great Canadian Goalie stamps in 2015 and the NHL Great Canadian Forwards issue last year.
The stamps are available in several formats, including a mixed booklet of six, containing all six players; those stamps measure 40 mm by 32 mm with simulated perforations, and are printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper with seven-color lithography. Oversized-rate hockey-card-size souvenir sheets are available in a pack of six, as well. Related products: A gummed mini-pane collectors’ item featuring all six players. The mini-pane features a silver foiled and embossed Stanley Cup.