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.
By his retirement, Harry Howell had 1,581 professional hockey games to his credit, more than any other defenceman. The durable and dependable defender from Hamilton, Ontario, hit the ice with the New York Rangers at just 19 years of age and stayed with the team for 17 years.
Howell earned his name on the Norris Trophy and a spot on the First NHL All-Star Team during the 1966-67 season. To honour their hero, ecstatic fans, dignitaries and businessmen attended the Harry Howell Night celebration January 25, 1967, at Madison Square Garden. There, and in his hometown, Howell was showered with gifts, including engraved watches, a new car, trips to resorts, a gas barbecue, a box of cigars, a seven-foot artificial Christmas tree and a year’s supply of cheese.
After his years with the Rangers, Howell played for the Oakland Seals and the Los Angeles Kings®. He switched to the World Hockey Association in 1973, eventually retiring as a player in 1976. Howell continued to work in professional hockey in the front office and as a scout until 1979.