Special fabric patch stamp celebrates Canadian hockey icon
“And the Calder Memorial Trophy goes to…”
It’s June 21, 2017. T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas is at capacity for the 2017 NHL® Awards. The place is filled with athletic young men in suits and women in formal gowns.
As the 2017 Rookie of the Year moves spryly toward the stage, the announcer underscores the significance of the accomplishment.
“Auston Matthews is the first Toronto Maple Leaf player to win the award since Brit Selby in 1966.”
Matthews, the first pick in the 2016 NHL® Entry Draft, won with 164 of 167 first-place votes. He is the 10th Leaf to win the Calder. He joins the likes of Leaf legends like Syl Apps (1937), Frank Mahovlich (1958) and Dave Keon (1961) – Calder winners who evoke memories of a golden age for the Leafs.
A Canadian hockey icon, the Toronto Maple Leafs is one of the most storied franchises in NHL history. It is one of four teams that officially formed the League, has more inductees in the players’ category of the Hockey Hall of Fame than any other Original Six™ team, and is among the most valuable franchises in the NHL.
Born as the Toronto Arenas and renamed the Toronto St. Patricks a couple of years later, the club won the first Stanley Cup® Championship in 1917-18.
Rechristened the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927, the team won its first Cup under the new name in 1931-32. Though they did not win another in the 1930s, they reached the Stanley Cup Finals an amazing seven times over the course of the next decade. They produced their first dynasty in the 1940s, winning six Cups between 1942 and 1951. The 1950s were leaner, but they emerged strong from the decade. The Leafs won the Cup four more times in the 1960s, including three in a row from 1962 to 1964. In total, they’ve won 13 Stanley Cups.
On October 23, 2017, Canada Post marked the team’s centennial by honouring the Leafs through its iconic stamp program. The postal service made its own history in the process. For the first time ever, Canada Post adhered a miniature fabric crest to a stamp (above centre). The commemorative issue also includes a booklet of 10 new silver logo stamps (above right) and a coil of 50 puck-shaped stamps in Maple Leaf blue.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs are a part of the fabric that ties this country together with some of the most passionate fans in hockey,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. “It was an honour to celebrate the incredible legacy of this Original Six™ team.”
The special fabric crest stamp, available only as a commemorative souvenir sheet, depicts the sweater worn by Maple Leafs captain Ted (Teeder) Kennedy during the 1949-50 NHL season, with the Leafs crest in fabric. Kennedy played centre for the Leafs between 1942-43 and 1956-57. He was captain of the team for eight years and remains the youngest player ever to suit up for the Leafs (he was 17). He and Turk Broda were also the first Leafs to win five Stanley Cup® Championships.
Since 1967, the year they last won the Cup, the Leafs have endured some dark days. In 1979, Leafs great Darryl Sittler ripped off the ’C’ after a dispute with owner Harold Ballard; in 1988 fans wore bags over their heads, pelting the ice with garbage after the team lost to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of the Norris Division semi-finals. But any team with such a lengthy history has faced tough times. Fans still cling to the legacy years and the magical moments since 1967.
Darryl Sittler’s 10-point night against the Boston Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens on February 7, 1976 still resonates. He would score more points in one game than any player before or since – two hat tricks and four assists. Over the last 50 years, Hall of Famers Lanny McDonald, Börje Salming, Doug Gilmour, Mats Sundin, and greats like Ian Turnbull, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin have thrilled crowds.
On October 12, 2016, another player emerged to signal the arrival of something special. In his NHL debut, Matthews scored four goals against the Ottawa Senators. The gifted young centreman ended the season with 40 goals and 29 assists in 82 regular season games. He scored five more points in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a dance even the most loyal fans didn’t expect the team to attend. With a talented supporting cast that includes sensations Mitch Marner and William Nylander, Matthews has breathed new life into this venerable franchise.
Now at the mic on the stage at T-Mobile Arena, Matthews thanks his parents, teammates, coaches, management and staff. He’s hitting all the right notes when the video feed cuts to his coach in the audience. Mike Babock mouths the words, “Thatta boy, good job,” clearly pleased.
The camera cuts back to the Leaf star. When he adds the “City of Toronto and Leafs Nation” to his acknowledgment list, there is a cheer from the crowd. His closing words cap another brilliant performance: “You guys are the best fans in the League. So, thank you.”
With on-ice stardom and off-ice poise, Matthews has emerged as the anchor of a new era for the Leafs and their fans.
Stamps and related collectibles are available at post offices or on canadapost.ca/leafs100.