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Vintage NHL Original Six Programs

A look through the literature that highlighted hockey history

NHL.com @NHL

Programs! Get your programs, here!

Even in today's age of smartphones and short attention spans, that familiar refrain can be heard as hockey fans enter arenas around the NHL to watch their team take the ice.

Though the refrain may remain the same, the advent of computer design and sophisticated photography drastically transformed the look and feel of the game-night program.

As early as the late 1920s, portraits and caricatures captured the living pictures fans would see at the rink. From the Montreal Forum to Boston Garden to Madison Square Garden to Maple Leaf Gardens to Olympia Stadium, programs were going for as little as 5 cents, giving fans the information they needed to follow their favorite team.

Programs have always provided a creative look at the action, and here are some of the most memorable from the NHL's infancy. Share your favorite, even those not included, in the comments.

 

1929-30 season: Boston Bruins program welcoming fans to the Boston Garden after a Stanley Cup championship the previous season.

 

1930: Caricature for the Montreal Canadiens commemorating their 1930 Stanley Cup championship, their fourth NHL title.

 

1932-33 season: This program welcomes fans to the first season of the Detroit Red Wings. After two seasons as the Detroit Falcons and four as the Detroit Cougars, the Red Wings began their time in the NHL with a 25-15-8 record. 

 

1934: Program for the Montreal Maroons vs. Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 22. The Maroons won 1-0 that night.

 

1940-41 season: New York Rangers program highlighting the showdown the between a Rangers goalie and a player driving to the net.

 

1941-42 season: Montreal Forum sports magazine spotlighting hockey among the many sports the famous venue hosted at the time.

 

1942-43 season: The moment the Toronto Maple Leafs were presented with the Stanley Cup on April 18,1942 is commemorated in the program for the following season at Maple Leaf Gardens.

 

1942-43 season: New York Rangers program showcasing the block-letter home uniform of the era.

 

1958-59 season: Cartoon players over Detroit's Olympia Stadium highlighted the 1958-59 Detroit Red Wings program. They missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time that season after 22 consecutive appearances.

 

A larger-than-life player towers over the program welcoming fans to Chicago Stadium, where the Blackhawks called home from 1929 until 1994.

 

1930s: A fascinating look at the old Madison Square Garden highlights a New York Americans program. Photos of "Yonkers" Billy Burch, who won the Hart Trophy with the Hamilton Tigers in 1924-25, and "Bullet" Joe Simpson, who played six seasons with the Americans, are featured prominently.

 

A cartoon depiction of a faceoff stands prominently in this vintage New York Rangers program.

 

A portrait of Olympia Stadium welcomes fans to the arena the Detroit Red Wings called home from 1927-79.

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