Since it formed in 1917, the National Hockey League® had seen many teams come and go. In 1942, the disbanding of the Brooklyn (formerly New York) Americans brought the number of teams to six. The Boston Bruins®, Chicago Black Hawks®, Detroit Red Wings®, Montreal Canadiens®, New York Rangers® and Toronto Maple Leafs® would become known as the Original Six™ teams, and remained stable opponents for a quarter century until the NHL® doubled in size in 1967.
In this quarter century, lasting legends were born. Toronto and Montréal built hockey dynasties: the Leafs won the Stanley Cup® nine times, the last time in 1967; the Canadiens won 10, including five consecutive titles between 1956 and 1960.
These were the golden years of the players on bubble-gum scented cards in every schoolboy’s pocket – Maurice “the Rocket” Richard, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Orr, Jacques Plante, and so many others. As television sets replaced radios, Foster Hewitt brought games to life on Hockey Night in Canada in English-speaking homes with the expression “He shoots ... he scores!” In French Canada, “Et c’est le but!” became a familiar expression thanks to René Lecavalier, the host of La Soirée du hockey.
When fans of the Original Six era called for “-DEE-fence, DEE-fence,” their wish was answered by six Canadian superstars who are featured in our 2014 issue of Original Six defencemen: Tim Horton, Doug Harvey, Bobby Orr, Harry Howell, Pierre Pilote and Red Kelly. Their story – and that of the six teams in what some call the greatest hockey era ever – is told through these stamps.
With this special issue, imagine yourself in the legendary Maple Leaf Gardens or the storied Montreal Forum. Picture your seat in Chicago’s “Madhouse on Madison,” Detroit’s “Old Red Barn,” or New York’s Madison Square Garden. Dream of watching Bobby Orr score a championship-winning goal at the Boston “Gahden.” These six blue-line heroes take to the ice again as we present another chapter of the history of the NHL.
In 1966, Bobby Orr – a budding star from Parry Sound, Ontario – took to the ice with the Boston Bruins. His first year earned him the Calder Trophy and a spot on the NHL’s Second All-Star Team.
The 1969-70 season was a milestone for Orr. He was the first defenceman in League history to lead the NHL in scoring, with 33 goals and 87 assists. He won the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy. Orr also earned his third Norris Trophy in as many seasons, bringing him one step closer to his record of eight consecutive wins. For the third straight season, he was also selected for the First All-Star Team. To top it all off, the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 29 years – with Orr scoring the winning goal in overtime. As the puck entered the net, photographers snapped an enduring photo of him soaring horizontally several feet above the ice, his arms outstretched in victory. For his outstanding play, Orr was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the League’s most valuable player in the playoffs. Following this incredible year, Orr signed the first $1-million deal realized in hockey to start the 1971-72 season.