Canada Shows Love of Hockey With Coins|
December 14, 2011
This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Hockey is Canada’s game. The first organized hockey games were reported in Nova Scotia in the 1870s at the time students in Montreal began playing hockey games downtown. North America’s first hockey league was formed in Ontario in 1885. Teams from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa faced off against each other in years to come. And in 1892, Lord Stanley, the English governor-general of Canada, bought a silver bowl and ordered that this special bowl be awarded to the best amateur team in Canada.
This prized trophy, the Stanley Cup, is awarded today to the team winning the National Hockey League playoffs – most recently, to the Boston Bruins in June 2011.
Canada’s love for the game is reflected in the many coins, circulating and bullion pieces, depicting hockey players and teams, commemorating great moments in the game.
On Feb. 25, 1986, a sterling silver $20 coin was issued to commemorate the 1988 Winter Olympics, held in Calgary, Alberta. This large and impressive coin was one in a series of Olympic coins honoring the games and sports. The reverse depicts a goaltender in action, stopping the puck. The job of goaltender has often been called the toughest job in sports; even The Old Farmer’s Almanac published an article on the dangers and thrills of being a goalie.
A $200 gold piece was issued in 1991 titled, “A National Passion.” The coin showed hockey players in action. This piece was a tribute to the spirit and vitality of Canadian youth, and their devotion to the game. Entire books have been written on the subject of fathers and sons bonding through their love of the game.
The Stanley Cup has been called the finest trophy in sports, and also the most difficult trophy to win. The cup was donated in 1893 by Lord Stanley of Preston, to be presented to the “championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada.” The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association was the first team to win the Cup. Since 1926, National Hockey teams only compete for the Stanley Cup. The original bowl is made of silver, with the current version made of silver and nickel alloy.
The cup is engraved each year with the names of the coaches and players who were a part of the championship team. When the entire 2004-2005 season was lost due to a lockout, the cup was engraved “2004-05 season not played.” The cup has its own bodyguards, men employed by the Hockey Hall of Fame who accompany the cup in its travels. Each member of the winning team can have the cup in his possession for one day, which has led to some interesting trips, in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe. The Stanley Cup is the oldest sports trophy in North America.
This wonderful trophy was commemorated on its 100th birthday in 1993 with a silver dollar. The coin, struck in sterling silver, shows two hockey players, flanked by the Stanley Cup, as it appeared in 1893 and 1993. Fittingly, a Canadian team—the Montreal Canadiens—won the Cup in 1993.
Every Canadian hockey fan of a certain age remembers the day the Canadian hockey team defeated the USSR on Sept. 28, 1972, at the Summit Series. Paul Henderson scored the winning goal. The moment of victory was preserved on a silver dollar of 1997, the 25th anniversary of the game. Team Canada came back to win the final three games of the series; Henderson scored all three game-winning goals.
The first recorded indoor hockey game, played on March 3, 1875, was remembered on a sterling 50-cent coin in 2000, showing four hockey players. This game was played at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal between two teams from McGill University.
Six Canadian teams are currently part of the National Hockey League. Three of these teams were honored on 25-cent coins: the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. The coins were issued as part of gift sets during the 2005-2006 NHL season, following a year when the entire season was cancelled due to a lockout. The following season, all six teams (including the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks) were honored on 25-cent coins. These coins feature a colorized team logo. The twenty-five cent pieces were struck in nickel plated steel.
The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, two of the “original six” teams, and the two teams that have won the most Stanley Cups, honored famous players with 50-cent coins in 2005. These “legends sets” contained four 50-cent pieces bearing images of star players. The Hockey Hall of Fame, located in Toronto, provided the images of such players as Guy Lafleur, Darryl Sittler and Maurice Richard. When Vancouver won its bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the mint struck many special coins to commemorate the event. One of these coins was a 25-cent piece depicting ice hockey.
The top Olympic Winter Games moments of all time were selected in an online contest hosted by the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium. The #1 moment was the gold medal victory of the men’s ice hockey team on Feb. 24, 2002. This was Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey in 50 years. The moment was captured on a 25-cent coin of 2009. The dramatic design features a hockey player raising his arms in victory, with a maple leaf in the background. Of a mintage of 22 million, 3 million coins were colorized, with a red maple leaf, and randomly inserted in rolls.
All six Canadian NHL teams were commemorated on .999 silver dollars in 2008. These coins were issued as part of gift sets.
In 2009, sterling silver $20 pieces, each depicting the goalie mask of one of the six Canadian NHL teams, were minted. On November 1, 1959, Jacques Plante, the goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, was struck in the face by a shot from New York Rangers forward Andy Bathgate. Plante returned to the bench after 21 minutes, wearing a mask. Despite some resistance from management, the goalie mask has remained a standard part of a goaltender’s equipment. Styles and shapes have changed over the years.
In 2009, all six Canadian NHL teams, with their old and new logos, appeared on sterling silver 50-cent coins. The coins bore a “lenticular” design; the coin showed diffeent images when tilted. The Montreal Canadiens’ 100th anniversary was commemorated in 2009 with a dollar coin for circulation, as well as a silver dollar struck in proof. The coins feature the number “100” and the Canadiens’ logo. The new coin was unveiled at Montreal’s Bell Centre by the presidents of the Royal Canadian Mint and the Montreal Canadiens on March 10, 2009. On the following day, Metro, Quebec’s largest grocery chain, began circulating these dollar coins. The proof edition has a limited mintage of 15,000. The Canadiens’ logo and the number “100,” along with the coin’s rim, are plated in gold. The team’s boutique had these special dollars for sale. The actual anniversary date for the Canadiens was Dec. 4, 2009. There are also many gift sets for sale to dedicated Canadiens fans.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were featured on another lenticular coin in 2009, a nickel dollar depicting the old and new logos.
One of the few stadiums seen on a coin is the Calgary Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames. A .999 silver $20 issued in 2006 shows this stadium in a holographic view. Built to house events of the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Saddledome has hosted many special events and appearances from country music stars, to Queen Elizabeth II, to the Dalai Lama. This 41,677-square-foot stadium, which seats 17,000, opened on Oct. 15, 1983.
The 75th anniversary of the longest international hockey series, Royal Military College of Canada vs. the United States Military Academy, is commemorated on a 2006 gold $100 coin. This match-up, played since 1923, takes place annually during West Point Weekend.
Victory on home ice is golden, and this came true in February 2010, when the Canadian men’s hockey team captured the Winter Olympic gold medal in Vancouver after a hotly contested game against the United States, a game that went into overtime. A .999 silver Maple Leaf, plated in 24-karat gold, honors this team. This piece shows a hockey player flanked by two maple leaves and the year, 2010.
The 2010 Winter Olympic medals are objects of great beauty and symbolism. Struck at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, each medal shows a different portion of a larger work of art, features of an Orca, based on First Nations artwork. Just as the whale is beautiful to see, it is a part of something larger, its pod; it cannot survive without its pod, or grouping of whales. The athlete is a joy to watch by himself, but he, too, is a part of something greater – his team, his community. Each medal is unique, to symbolize each athlete’s unique path to success.
These medals also show an undulated or wavy surface, inspired by the snowbanks, mountains and shoreline of British Columbia; the games took place in Vancouver and Whistler. A clear coating was applied to each medal to prevent tarnishing. Each medal measures 100 mm in diameter and is 6 mm thick. They weigh between 500 and 576 grams each, among the heaviest in Olympic history. The Royal Canadian Mint displayed one of the gold medals at the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association’s 2010 convention in New Brunswick.
Each nation that hosts the Olympics, winter or summer, strikes a number of coins in advance of the Games; this was true when Vancouver won the right to host the 2010 Winter Games. Among many issues celebrating winter sports was a $25 dollar sterling silver coin depicting two hockey players, with a hologram on the left side of the reverse.
Medals in sterling silver and nickel were issued from 1997-2001 to commemorate hockey players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. A medal honoring Wayne Gretzky, “The Great One,” was minted in 1999, on the occasion of his retirement from the game. Over 50,000 of these medals were struck; each medal was housed in a blue package with a red number “99” – Gretzky’s number – on the package. Many more medals are available with hockey themes; even a devoted collector may not be able to locate them all.
Gretzky fans have new issues to collect in 2011. Special 25-cent, $25 and $200 coins commemorate Gretzky on his 50th birthday – and include a tribute to his father, Walter. The colorized 25-cent coin features a close-up of Gretzky, while the silver $25 and gold $200 feature Gretzky in an action pose, with a small portrait of his father looking on.
The new Winnipeg Jets team was honored on a 50-cent coin and a silver $20 coin. After the old Jets team left town for Phoenix in 1996, the city of Winnipeg was without a NHL team until this season, when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg for the 2011-2012 hockey season.
Hockey fans in Canada, the United States, and all over the world can collect coins honoring teams, great moments, and the Stanley Cup. Special coins with a hockey theme can enhance any fan’s love for the game and are special pieces of memorabilia for the new or the old-time fan.
This article is dedicated to the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, who gave this fan so much joy and excitement.
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• 2012 North American Coins and Prices
• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin Books & Coin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program
• Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition
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On December 14, 2011 Charleston Voice
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