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.
Known for his incredible strength, the Cochrane, Ontario-born Tim Horton joined the Toronto Maple Leafs’ full-time roster and helped the Leafs to Stanley Cup championships in 1962, 1963, 1964 and again in 1967.
Off the ice, Horton was a businessman. In 1964, he opened his first Tim Hortons Donuts in Hamilton, Ontario. Its success tempted him to retire in 1969; so assuming he’d be turned down, he asked the Leafs to double his salary. To his surprise, the Leafs agreed and Horton signed on for one more year.
Horton then played for the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins® and the Buffalo Sabres®. On February 20, 1974, the Sabres played in Toronto. As Horton returned to Buffalo, his still-brilliant career was ended by a fatal car accident.
Horton left an incredible legacy on the ice – 23 NHL seasons, four Stanley Cup championships and three appearances on the NHL First All-Star Team. Though he never won the Norris trophy, his achievements rival those who did. A generation of Maple Leaf fans remembers Horton as the greatest defenceman to don the blue and white.