The world of sports is not without its celebrations in the millennium year, and perhaps first among them was the 50th National Hockey League (NHL®) All-Star Game. Held on February 6, 2000 in Toronto, host city of the first official all-star game in 1947, the match was the centrepiece of the all-star weekend at the Air Canada Centre.
In honour of this historic Canadian event, Canada Post is proud to present a commemorative six-stamp issue featuring some of this country's greatest hockey stars. Available as a 6-stamp souvenir sheet with a souvenir folder, the same 6-stamp souvenir sheet without a folder, and on an OFDC three-pack, this domestic-rate release pays tribute to a tradition that reaches back to hockey's early days.
The souvenir sheet features an All-Star lineup of Canadian hockey greats; Wayne Gretzky "The Great One," Gordie Howe® "Mr. Hockey"®, Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr and Jacques Plante.
Supporting Their Own
Early all-star matches were staged to raise funds in support of the families of ailing or deceased players. The first such game took place on January 2, 1908, when the Hod Stuart Memorial Match was held for the family of the late Montreal Wanderers defenseman who had died in a diving accident.
The NHL tradition of selecting first- and second-team all-stars began in the 1930-31 season. Three years later, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated an NHL all-star team 7-3 in a match to benefit Toronto forward Ace Bailey and his family. Bailey's career had ended a few months before when he fractured his skull during a game in Boston.
The 50th game falls in 2000 even though the tradition of an annual all-star game began 53 years ago. Two matches were pre-empted by specialty series - the 1979 Challenge Cup and Rendez-Vous '87 - while the 1995 season was disrupted by a labour dispute.
Wayne Gretzky, "The Great One"
Wayne Gretzky was destined for stardom from the time he began to play hockey. As an 11-year-old in the 1970-71 season, he collected 378 goals and 139 assists. As an adult, he went on to rewrite the NHL record book. Gretzky was selected to every all-star team during his 20-year career. Among many other records, he holds those for most goals and points in all-star competition as well as most goals in a single all-star game.
Gordie Howe®, "Mr. Hockey"®
Gordie Howe combined strength, durability and toughness with a deft scoring touch. He was the NHL's career point-scoring leader from 1960 to 1989 and the league's top goal-scorer from 1963 to 1994. With deceptive speed, an effortless skating style, he had the ability to shoot left- or right-handed. His records include most selections to NHL all-star teams - 21 in total.
Maurice "Rocket" Richard
Named an NHL all-star 14 times, Maurice ‹‹ Rocket ›› Richard was a fiery player who possessed amazing speed and brilliant goal-scoring ability. During his career he notched 83 game-winning goals, and in 133 play-off games he scored 82 goals and 44 assists.
In his time, Doug Harvey was the league's top defenseman, and ranks with Eddie Shore and Bobby Orr as one of the greatest ever. One of the best puck-carrying defencemen of all time, Harvey starred for 14 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. He played for six Stanley Cup winning teams and saw all-star action in 12 straight years.
Widely recognized as one of the greatest defensemen ever to lace up a pair of skates, Bobby Orr broke into the NHL with the 1966-67 Boston Bruins and went on to take rookie-of-the-year honours. Orr was equally potent on offense and defense, but he was plagued by knee injuries throughout his career and, in the end, was able to play only nine full seasons. Still, he scored an amazing 270 goals and 645 assists in only 657 regular season games.
Jacques Plante was the first goalie to use a mask as part of his playing equipment. Previously, some goalies wore masks while recovering from injuries. His practice of roaming from the net to play the puck for his defensemen brought an entirely new dimension to the game. In an astonishing string of seasons beginning in 1955-56, Plante won the Vezina Trophy - and led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup - for five straight years. He made eight all-star appearances in all.
The Design Team
Combining canvas illustration and computer design, artists Dan Fell and Vincent McIndoe joined forces for the 50th NHL All-Star Game issue. Their last stamp collaboration was the 1998 series commemorating Canadian Canal systems.
"The challenge in this set was to convey both the excitement and the history of one of Canada's national sports," says Fell. Action vignettes featuring the players appear to emerge from the spotlighted ice surface, drawing attention to the famous careers brought together for this special all-star game. The all-star logo is flanked by vignettes of the silhouettes of Maple Leaf Gardens and the Air Canada Centre - sites of the first and 50th NHL All-Star Game. Each star in the row of five along the bottom of the souvenir sheet symbolizes ten years of All-Star match-ups. Here's to 50 more.
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