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NHL Centennial

Canadian Hockey Legends stamps revealed by Canada Post

Richard, Beliveau, Howe, Orr, Lemieux, Gretzky featured in final series

by Dave Stubbs @dave_stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

TORONTO -- Six hockey icons, arguably the greatest of the very best, are the final burst of fireworks on Canada Post's five-year series of stamps issued to celebrate the NHL Centennial and the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup.

Maurice 'Rocket' Richard, Jean Béliveau, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were unveiled on stamps Wednesday at the Hockey Hall of Fame, a series titled Canadian Hockey Legends.

"The players we immortalized on this year's stamps redefined hockey over careers that spanned more than 60 years," Canada Post president and chief executive officer Deepak Chopra said in a release announcing the 2017 issue.

"They inspired us, and each other, with feats that boggle the mind. They are the Ultimate Six. We hope that by issuing these stamps during the NHL's Centennial, we have helped make this milestone year for the NHL even more special."

Wednesday's ceremony, held in the Hall of Fame's stately Great Hall, was attended by representatives of the six legends honored in the 2017 series: Normand Richard, a son of the Rocket; Élise Béliveau, the widow of Jean; Marty Howe, one of Gordie's sons; Ron Blanchard, a boyhood friend, business partner and brother-in-law of Orr; Walter and Austin Gretzky, father and a nephew of Wayne; and Hall of Fame player Bryan Trottier, on behalf of his longtime friend Lemieux.

Video: Six NHL legends immortalized as Canada Post stamps

In the audience were four NHL icons, all featured on earlier series: goalies Johnny Bower and Bernie Parent, and forwards Red Kelly and Darryl Sittler.

Élise Béliveau, who would pay a visit to the Hall of Fame's mockup of the Canadiens dressing room, sitting with her late husband's No. 4 sweater, was moved to tears in her appreciation of the latest honor paid to Jean, who died in December 2014.

"I'm sure that many of you know that team spirit was a very important value for my husband during his life," she said. "Most certainly he would have been very touched to be recognized and honored to be among this very unique group of Canadian players. In a different way, I guess, this would have made him feel like he was part of a team again."

With a grin, Marty Howe looked at Bower, a former opponent, and Kelly, a teammate with the Detroit Red Wings and later an opponent with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"There are a lot of great men here," Howe said. "Johnny, Gordie loved you. … Red, the same. Having had the chance to play hockey with Gordie on the same team, I don't know he did it. He came back when he was 45 to play in the WHA with us (himself and a brother, Mark).

"I never realized how truly strong this guy was. He just had a stubbornness about him, like a mule. When he had his mind set on hurting you, he would hurt you. If his mind was to score a goal on you, he would. Pretty much did whatever he wanted. He was a surgeon with his stick in scoring goals and saying, 'Whoops, sorry.' "

Then, with a laugh: "I don't know whether guys believed that he was sorry."

 

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Since 2013, in its run to the NHL's Centennial Celebrations, Canada Post has issued 57 stamps in five annual series celebrating, in order: Canadian-team jerseys and logo-crested pucks; Original Six Defensemen and Canadian-team logo-crested Zamboni ice-resurfacing machines; Great Canadian Goalies; Great Canadian Forwards; and now 2017's Canadian Hockey Legends.

All but two of the players featured are members of the Hall of Fame -- retired New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is a lock when he's eligible in 2018, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby seems a certainty when his playing days are done.

Only Orr, the legendary Boston Bruins defenseman, has appeared in more than one series, first in the Original Six Defensemen issue, and now the series unveiled on Wednesday.

The six Canadian Hockey Legends have incredible pedigree. They piled up more than 9,500 points in their nearly 7,000 regular-season games, won 40 Stanley Cup championships -- 30 won as players, 10 within the ranks of management -- and captured more than 80 individual awards.

Toronto designers Avi Dunkelman and Joe Gault have taken closeups of the six players and placed them over the Stanley Cup ghosted behind them. Canada Post will also sell hockey-card souvenir sheets illustrating players holding the game's ultimate prize, to be sold in packages of six.

Seven-color lithographed stamps will be sold in mixed booklets of six, each player included. One in 40 packs of the souvenir sheets will include a signed and authenticated sheet.

Visit canadapost.ca/shop to order

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Look back at the past four years of Canada Post NHL Stamp Collections:

2016

 

2016 NHL® Great Canadian Forwards featuring some of the greatest NHL goal-scorers all-time: Phil Esposito (Bruins), Guy Lafleur (Canadiens), Darryl Sittler (Maple Leafs), Mark Messier (Oilers), Steve Yzerman (Red Wings), Sidney Crosby (Penguins)

 

2015

 

2015 NHL® Great Canadian Goalies featuring some of the finest NHL goalies between 1952-2015: Lorne "Gump" Worsley (Canadiens), Johnny Bower (Maple Leafs), Tony Esposito (Blackhawks), Bernie Parent (Flyers), Ken Dryden (Canadiens), Martin Brodeur (Devils)

 

2014

 

2014 collection featuring legendary Original Six Defensemen (Bobby Orr, Tim Horton, Pierre Pilote, Red Kelly, Doug Harvey, Harry Howell), Canada's seven NHL teams and iconic Zamboni® Ice Resurfacer

 

2013

 

NHL Canadian stamp series recognizing the iconic jerseys of the seven Canadian NHL teams and the passion of their fans

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