Hockey connects the United States and Canada as much as anything except, perhaps, a fondness for maple syurp. Frozen ponds, rustic rinks and gleaming arenas are home to the coolest game in both countries, so it’s only fitting that the United States Postal Service and Canada Post, two entities also woven into the fabric of their respective lands, are helping honor the sport with a set of commemorative stamps depicting hockey’s past and present.
“The History of Hockey” stamps, which were unveiled and went into circulation in the fall, have already given thousands of mail recipients a reminder of the sport’s cherished connection to its past. They come in sheets, with stamps on the top row depicting a player on a pond in modern-day attire mirroring stamps on the bottom featuring a vintage player in an identical pose.
The literal reflection of one player on another is not lost on those who gaze upon the stamps with the knowledge that the sport has deep roots.
“Working with Canada Post, it was determined that we wanted to design stamps that would speak to the shared history of hockey as a sport and a pastime,” said William Gicker, the art director for the American version of the stamps. “Reflecting the past and the present in the surface of the ice, these images are a tribute to the beloved sport enjoyed by Americans and Canadians alike.”
Megan Brennan, the postmaster general of the United States Postal Service, echoed those sentiments at the unveiling of the stamp in October.
“You can picture the snow shoveled off the ice,” Brennan said. “You can hear the skates and the slap of the sticks. You can feel the cold. But mostly what you imagine is the fun, the competition and the energy. This is what endures today and is captured so well in these stamps.”
A surprise guest at the unveiling, which took place at Little Caesars Arena’s Belfor Training Center in Detroit, was Murray Howe, son of all-time great Gordie Howe. Murray was moved to tears at the event when he detailed a story of how his father got his start in the sport as a child, and the shot of the vintage player on the stamp must’ve helped to stir up those emotions.
“Mom and dad both loved hockey and they dedicated their lives to building bridges between people and between nations through this sport and we are sure from their front-row seats up in heaven they are cheering on the unveiling of these newest stamps which bridges two countries and two generations,” said Howe.
While Canada can claim Gordie Howe as its own, USA Hockey boasts countless players who started out the same way on the lakes and ponds of Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts and elsewhere, and these images are just as emotive to those on the south side of the border.
On the sheet aside the stamps is a scene of a father and daughter playing on a frozen surface, two cones beside them as goal posts and the bushy edge of the pond in the background. The American and Canadian flags are below their skates, along with the phrase, “The History of Hockey.”
These stamps are classified as Forever stamps, meaning they are always equal in value to the current first-class mail one-ounce price. They could not be deemed anything else, given the lasting nature of the sport and its ability to bridge two vast nations.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.