The hidden date for this stamp can be found on the Canada player's hockey stick.
It's known all over the world as Canada's game, and this year it's coming home. In Halifax and Québec City this spring, the very best international hockey teams will compete for the Men's World Championship, the premier annual event of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). It's the first time in IIHF history that the World Championship has been held in Canada, but as the federation marks its 100th anniversary, there's no better place to celebrate.
Canada is where the sport as we know it originated*, and today the colours of our national team represent ice hockey excellence. Team Canada's signature red jersey and its maple-leaf logo dominate a new domestic rate (52¢) stamp Canada Post is issuing to celebrate the IIHF's centennial and the 2008 World Championship. Amid a spray of ice and angled sticks, a Canadian player beats his opponent to the puck in a high-speed chase that all but flies out of the stamp frame. Based on an illustration by Ho Che Anderson, this dynamic image captures the energy and excitement of the game at its best.
"With this stamp we wanted to highlight the game, not individual players," says Liz Wong, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. But that proved a challenge, because hockey in Canada is so closely associated with its star players. Designers Lionel Gadoury and Dave Hurds solved the problem by avoiding photography on the stamp. "An illustration can be more generally representative," says Gadoury, "and it also allowed us to create an iconic image with a heroic quality."
This approach was designed to appeal particularly to young hockey fans and stamp collectors, he says. "We hoped to capture what kids are seeing in the cards they collect and in video games-a slightly exaggerated, comic-book style." Anderson is also a comic book illustrator, and his style fit the bill. His original stamp illustration conveys a sense of power and action, with much drama in the contrasts of white ice and a darkly silhouetted background player. The asymmetrical placement of the players gives a sense of speed, and the wider image dimensions offer a panorama that heightens the drama.
There will be drama in abundance at the 2008 World Championship-all eyes will be on Team Canada, the home team and defending world champion. The IIHF is the governing body for the sport internationally and has regulated world championship and Olympic hockey since it was formed in 1908. Over those 100 years, Canadian teams have been regular medal contenders, even though professional players, such as those in the National Hockey League, weren't eligible to participate until 1977.
This year expectations are high, and Team Canada will be working hard to win the gold at home. The event runs from May 2 to 18 in Halifax and Québec City, with the final, medal-round games held exclusively in Québec. Canada Post features the host cities on two separate stamp booklets and official first day covers, along with ice-level action photos that put us all in the game, adding to the excitement of this historic event, as the world pays a visit to the home of hockey.
See the IIHF's history page online at http://www.iihf.com/iihf-home/history.html.