I remember very well the winter of 1946. We all wore the same uniform as Maurice Richard, the red, white, and blue uniform of the Montreal Canadiens, the best hockey team in the world… We laced our skates like Maurice Richard, we taped our sticks like Maurice Richard… Truly, we knew everything there was to know about him.
Roch Carrier, The Hockey Sweater
Every culture has its legends—stories that bind through tales of glory, heroes who conquer the odds and incite pride. And so it is in Canada, where the Montreal Canadiens’ century-long tradition of on-ice triumph and excellence has inspired generations.
The storied “Flying Frenchmen” came into being in 1909, when the original franchise, officially known as le Club de hockey Canadien, was granted to J. Ambrose O’Brien. Fans soon nicknamed them les Habitants (or “the Habs”), a term used to refer to the first French settlers in present-day Québec. One of the “Original Six” pre-expansion teams, the Canadiens helped found the National Hockey League in 1917 and have gone on to win more Stanley Cups than any other club in hockey history.
This fall, Canada Post will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this celebrated sports franchise with a commemorative stamp at the domestic rate, issued in a booklet of 10, and three high-value stamps, valued at $3.00 each, issued in souvenir sheet format. The tribute, which blends historical visuals with leading-edge printing techniques, will be a memorable way to mark this major milestone.
“For 100 years, the Canadiens have been synonymous with hockey, the city of Montréal, and the country as a whole,” says Ray Lalonde, Canadiens Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “It is appropriate, then, that Canadians from coast to coast will be able to partake in our Centennial celebrations by collecting these remarkable stamps that pay homage to both one of the most iconic jerseys in all of sports, and three of the greatest legends who ever wore it.”
The domestic stamp features a close-up of Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s game-worn #9 hockey sweater, which is currently housed in the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame. “The jersey’s texture is very interesting visually,” notes Montréal designer Stéphane Huot. “The older style, with its wool fabric and intricate detailing, really speaks to the team’s long history, capturing the magnitude of this anniversary.” The jersey is also a powerful, unifying symbol in French-Canadian culture. “It’s sometimes called La Sainte Flanelle (the “Holy Shirt”),” Huot points out. “By connecting it to faith in this way, fans attribute a mystic, other-worldly quality to the feelings it conjures.” Inside the booklet, the team’s list of Stanley Cup wins is listed vertically, and its centennial logo is printed on the back.
Stamps in motion
Using an action-oriented printing process called Motionstamp™ technology, the three stamps on the souvenir sheet feature replays of the historic 500th goals of Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau, and Guy Lafleur, while playing for the Canadiens. The stamps are based on digital clips provided by the Montreal Canadiens. “They offer close-ups of the actual footage of the three goals,” explains Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post, pointing out that the action extends into the numbers, 1909-2009, to the left. The players featured represent the golden age of the club (the 1950s through the 1970s)—Richard in the ‘50s, Béliveau in the ‘60s, and Lafleur in the ‘70s. “I think this was the perfect way to capture the excitement and dynamism the team has stirred in hockey arenas for the past century.”
To learn more about the Montreal Canadiens and centennial celebrations, visit http://ourhistory.canadiens.com/home
The Canadiens and The Hockey Sweater
In The Hockey Sweater, Roch Carrier’s ode to his red, white and blue-clad heroes, the Montreal Canadiens, he reminisces: “The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places—the school, the church and the skating rink—but our real life was on the skating rink.” With these words, Carrier speaks to an experience that is so tightly woven into the Canada’s social fabric that it’s been quoted on our five-dollar bill—the experience of growing up in a vast, frozen land, where hockey is more than a pastime, players are nationwide icons, and teams bear the power of legend.