One of my fondest memories as a youngster—and hockey fan—was collecting hockey cards. Like probably thousand and thousand of kids in the late 1950s and early 1960s, card-collecting was a way to get to know a bit more about the players and feel closer to the game and the players you watched on Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada. (As much of an institution as HNIC still is, even for youngsters nowdays, imagine how important it was for many Canadians when it was the only hockey game you saw all week?)
Most hockey cards would feature a posed picture of a player, and a small bio or write-up of some description on the back of the card. My collecting hey-day was probably between 1960 and 1964 or thereabouts, when I was between the ages of 7 and 11.
But another really neat thing was if you could get your hands on an annual NHL team calendar. I’m trying to remember the details of how I found out about the availability of these gems—it was likely from my older brothers who had sent away (they were huge
fans) for the Canadiens’ calendars in the 1950s. Montreal
In any event, I recall sending away for Maple Leaf calendars for a few years in the early ‘60s. I still have the 1962-'63 version (there is a picture of the front page of the calendar on the right-hand side of this site.), which was my absolute favorite. The colored team-picture of that Cup-winning team from 1962 was and is something I enjoy to this day.
I probably paid fifty cents or a dollar for the calendar, just putting some loose change in an envelope in the mail with no more of an address than “Toronto Maple Leafs,
…” in my poor hand-writing. Toronto, Ontario
That was it, and my requests for a calendar got there, evidently, and lo and behold, I actually received the calendars in the mail some weeks later. (Getting mail as a kid was one of the highlights of life in those simpler times.)
The calendars always had a team picture on the front (see one of the inside pages of 1964-'65 Leaf calendar at the top of this story), and then there would be various pages inside to cover the length of the NHL schedule in those days, from October until April. Some calenders would feature pictures, for example, of the individual award winners from the previous season or perhaps the players who made first NHL All-Star team.
Some of those following this site no doubt have their own recollections of collecting calendars, either from the Leafs or the Canadiens
. (I think a couple of teams may have tried doing a calendar in the old six-team NHL days, but I don’t believe it lasted.) The Leaf calendars were always published with the financial support of a major corporate sponsor, as I recall. U.S.
I’m guessing the Leafs and Habs kept producing the old-style calendar for a number of years, but I don’t honestly recall when they would have stopped making them. For all I know they are still offering them today, and I'm just not aware.
Some of you may be able to fill in the blanks!