By Fred Baumann
On Oct. 1, just days before the start of the 2015-16 National Hockey League season, Canada Post unveiled a new issue that celebrates six goaltending greats who transformed Canada’s national game.
The 2015 NHL Great Canadian Goalies set of permanent stamps paying Canada’s domestic letter rate (currently 85¢) highlights some of the finest goalies to play between 1952 and 2015: Lorne “Gump” Worsley, Johnny Bower, Tony Esposito, Bernie Parent, Ken Dryden and Martin Brodeur.
Each of these epic net-minders won the most coveted of professional prizes: the Stanley Cup Championship and the Vezina Trophy that goes each season to the NHL’s most accomplished goalkeeper. All six men changed the way professional hockey was played or perceived, making them genuine game changers.
“Having some of the greatest NHL goalies immortalized on these stamps is remarkable,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, “a true testament to their impact on hockey fans around the world. We’re proud to share this momentous occasion with the players, their loved ones, and the fans.”
Four of the five living hockey legends attended the unveiling ceremony in the Esso Great Hall, home of the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.
Martin Brodeur, who is now the St. Louis Blues assistant general manager, was represented by his nephew, Philippe Gendron. Doreen Worsley, Gump Worsley’s widow, represented her husband at the event attended by hundreds of dignitaries and fans.
Avi Dunkelman and Joe Gault of Mix Design in Toronto designed the stamps, which feature head-and-shoulder images of the players in uniform, portrayed as their fans remember them. Four of the six are pictured wearing goalies’ masks of the modern era. Worsley and Bower, whose heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s, are depicted as they invariably played — without masks.
Nicknamed after a popular cartoon character, Lorne “Gump” Worsley won the Stanley Cup four times with the Montreal Canadiens and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie twice between 1965 and 1969. Born May 14, 1929, in Montreal, Worsley played with the New York Rangers (1952-53, 1954-55 to 1962-63), Montreal Canadiens (1963-64 to 1969-70), Minnesota North Stars (1969-70 to 1973-74). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980
In an article in InGoal Magazine, Tomas Hertz provides a collection of quotes from goalies, including this one from Worsley, “The only job worse is a javelin catcher at a track-and field meet.”
Toronto Maple Leaf Johnny Bower said, “I just made up my mind I was going to lose teeth and have my face cut to pieces. It was easy.”
Bower equaled Worsley’s record of four Stanley Cups and two Vezina trophies during his career from 1958-70, when the Leafs and Canadiens stood atop the NHL.
Born Nov. 8, 1924, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, he retired at age 45 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976. During his NHL career, he played for the New York Rangers (1953-54, 1954-55, 1956-57) and Toronto Maple Leafs (1958-59 to 1969-70).
Sault Ste. Marie native Tony Esposito, a standout with the Chicago Blackhawks, won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, the Vezina Trophy as best goalkeeper in 1970, 1972 and 1974, and played a leading role in Canada’s success in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
The man fans called “Tony O” was born April 23, 1943, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Playing for the Montreal Canadiens (1968-69), and Chicago Blackhawks (1969-70 to 1983-84), he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.
Perhaps the last great stand-up goaltender, Montreal-born Bernie Parent won the Stanley Cup, Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1974 and 1975 NHL playoffs.
Born April 3, 1945, in Montreal, Quebec, Parent played for the Boston Bruins (1965-66 to 1966-67), Philadelphia Flyers (1967-68 to 1970-71, 1973-74 to 1978-79) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (1970-71 to 1971-72), before a career-ending accident at age 34.
A thoughtful writer about the game as well as one of its top net-minders, Ken Dryden, born Aug. 8, 1947, in Hamilton, won the Stanley Cup with Montreal six times, the Vezina Trophy an amazing five times, and also played for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet national team. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.
New Jersey Devil goalie Martin Brodeur born May 6, 1972, in Montreal posted impressive numbers: two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, three Stanley Cups, four Vezina trophies, five Jennings trophies for the fewest goals scored against him, and the only goalie ever with eight 40-win seasons in the NHL. Brodeur played the 2014-15 season with the St. Louis Blues and with the New Jersey Devils from the 1991-92 season through 2013-14.
The 2015 NHL Great Canadian Goalies set is the third installment in a five-year series of NHL stamps leading up to its conclusion with a special issue for the centennial of the NHL in 2017. Great Canadian Goalies follows the NHL Team Jerseys stamps released in 2013, and the Original Six Defensemen stamps issued in 2014.
Canada Post has produced more than 50 NHL-themed stamps since 1992, and more than 68 hockey-themed stamps since 1956. The earliest of these is the 59-year-old 5¢ Hockey commemorative (Scott 359), from a time when stick blades were straight, no one wore helmets, and all the pads were leather, canvas and felt.
Jacques Plante of Montreal Canadiens fame and Toronto Maple Leaf Johnny Bower also were among the outstanding net-minders previously honored on Canadian stamps. Plante once said, “How would you like it if at your job, every time you made the slightest mistake a little red light went on over your head and 18,000 people stood up and screamed at you?”
The new Great Canadian Goalies stamps are available in a booklet of six with one stamp for each player. These booklet stamps are self-adhesive, horizontally formatted 40 millimeters by 32mm with simulated die-cut perforations. The booklet front features a photo of Martin Brodeur taken by his father, Denis, while the inside cover features a Hockey Hall of Fame archival photograph of Gump Worsley and Johnny Bower shaking hands after a playoff game in 1962.
Lowe-Martin printed these booklet stamps in seven-color offset lithography on Tullis Russell paper. A total of 600,000 booklets, or 3.6 million stamps, were produced.
Described as a “mini-pane” or “special pane” by Canada Post is a broad-margined square 160mm by 160mm sheetlet of perforated stamps with moisture-activated gum, with three vertical labels separating the two three-stamp columns showing all six designs. (This, in fact, fits the traditional definition of a souvenir sheet, in that it includes all the stamps in the issue and is inscribed with the name of the issue as well: “Great Canadian Goalies.”)
The nonstamp labels feature embossed, foiled logos of the NHL and an embossed image of Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante’s first game-worn mask.
There will be 152,000 special panes printed, for a total of 912,000 stamps.
Using the self-adhesive booklet versions of the stamps, Canada Post is producing 75,000 first-day covers, each postmarked in the town where the goalie was born, with the logo of the NHL team with which he was most commonly associated.
Dryden, Brodeur and Bower each get 15,000 FDCs, with only 10,000 each for Parent, Esposito and Worsley.
The FDCs can be ordered individually for $1.85 each, or in a complete set of six for $11.10, available only online or by mail-order.
Described by Canada Post as “souvenir sheets,” vertically formatted 52mm by 78mm $1.80 stamps resembling hockey cards and featuring full images of the players in action are also available.
These $1.80 stamps pay Canada’s domestic oversize rate for nonstandard letters weighing up to 100 grams. As on hockey cards first popularly collected in the early 20th century, career statistics that tell part of each player’s professional story are printed on the backs of the $1.80 stamps.
Complete sets of six (called “packs” by Canada Post) are sealed in a foil pouch, as modern sports cards often have been. Canada Post notes, “Each includes a chance to win: one in 40 packs has a signed and authenticated souvenir sheet.”
Canada Post order numbers are 413992111 for the self-adhesive die-cut six-stamp booklet, 403992107 for the perforated, gummed “special panes,” 413992131 for sets of six FDCs, and 403992145 for foil-wrapped sets of six hockey cardlike “souvenir sheets.”
NHL Great Canadian Goalies stamps and related products are available online. Additional products are available from the Canada Post shop. Stamps and FDCs will be available by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre, Canada Post Corp., 75 St. Ninian St., Antigonish, NS B2G 2R8, Canada; or by telephone from the United States and Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.
Canada’s stamps and stamp products also are available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.
I gratefully thank InGoal Magazine for permission to use quotes published online in the article written by Tomas Hertz.