TORONTO - Canada Post is honouring a number of legendary NHL defencemen from the league's Original Six era with its latest collection of postage stamps.
Longtime Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr is featured along with Tim Horton, Pierre Pilote, Red Kelly, Doug Harvey and Harry Howell. The latest issue, unveiled Thursday at the Hockey Hall of Fame, also includes stamps featuring Canada's seven NHL teams and the Zamboni ice resurfacer.
Orr, Pilote, Kelly and Howell were on hand for the ceremony along with members of the Horton and Harvey families. They were joined by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra.
"I never expected anything like this," Orr said. "I don't think any of the players here today ever thought that we would be on a stamp. Obviously it's a great honour to be here in the great Hall.
"It's just a great thrill."
Each stamp features an image of the player in uniform with their enlarged jersey numbers in the background.
"The six hockey legends celebrated by Canada Post defined and in some cases redefined the defensive position at a golden time in the sport's history," Raitt said. "Hockey transcends sport in Canada. It's part of our very fabric."
Orr is the only defenceman in league history to twice win the Art Ross Trophy for scoring. The eight-time all-star won three straight Hart Trophies as league MVP and guided the Bruins to Stanley Cup wins in 1970 and 1972.
Horton was a three-time all-star who helped the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cup victories. Pilote won the Norris Trophy on three occasions and helped the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup win in 1961.
Kelly won the first Norris Trophy awarded in 1954. He won four Stanley Cups as a defenceman with the Detroit Red Wings and four more Cups as a centre with the Maple Leafs.
Harvey won the Norris on seven occasions and helped the Montreal Canadiens win five straight Stanley Cups from 1956 to '60. The 11-time all-star also played for the Red Wings, New York Rangers, and St. Louis Blues.
Howell, who played professional hockey for 25 seasons, won the Norris in 1967.
"I think what people have to understand with those five other players is that I only played one year with six teams (in the league)," Orr said. "These guys played most of their careers with six teams and it was a heck of a lot tougher. So if you look at their numbers, they're incredible.
"They were all great players and all great people."
Canada Post has produced more than 50 NHL-themed stamps since 1992.
"Hockey is Canada's passion," Chopra said. "The legendary players we've immortalized on these stamps capture part of this country's hockey story. These men inspired a generation, and their brilliance filled a nation with pride and joy.
"More than a few NHL players were born of the dreams instilled in them as boys by these stars."
Canada Post issued its first hockey-themed stamp in January 1956. It featured three players wearing Canada jerseys.
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