Vintage NHL Christmas cards evoke warm memories of bygone eras

Jason Kay
NYR - 1968 copy

Once upon a time, Erle Schneidman, like thousands of other fans, used to collect hockey cards. Then, when the end of the innocence arrived, he bowed out.

“Like a lot of people, I just found it too expensive,” says the Montreal-based children’s dentist. “They were just pieces of cardboard. I realized other things on paper were just as nice.”

So for the past 25 years, Schneidman has turned his attention to pocket schedules, media guides, post cards and the like. He also owns an impressive array of Christmas cards – more than 1,000 of them.

Schneidman, who used to host a weekly radio show in Montreal on collecting, is proud of his little empire, but worries its growth is in jeopardy. As the world becomes increasingly digital, people are producing fewer paper versions of everything, including Christmas cards. It’s good for the environment, but not as advantageous for a very niche collector’s world.

On the flip side, it does make his stash that much more rare. Christmas cards, in general, are tough to come by because people typically dispose of them. And for Schneidman, a true hobbyist in it for the passion, he holds his cards close to his chest.

But he is willing to share. Here, in chronological order, are 10 of his favorites. (And if you want to view more of his collection, visit his website, Canadiens Memorabilia).

1. 1941 Chicago Black Hawks
Taken during World War II, this card has something of a military, orderly feel to it. Note, also, the vast amount of net you can see behind goalie Sam Lopresti.
Chicago - 1941

2. 1960 Dryden Family
Siblings Judy, Ken and Dave.
1960 Dryden Family Christmas Card

3. 1962 Toe Blake
A Hall of Fame player, legendary coach and…music conductor.
Toe Blake - 1962

4. 1966 Hull Family
Bobby, Joanne, Bobby Jr., Blake and Brett.
Hull family - 1966

5. 1968 New York Rangers
Apparently, this is the guy who wore No. 68 on Broadway before Jaromir Jagr.
NYR - 1968

6. 1973 Philadelphia Flyers
Broad Street Bullies or Softies?
Flyers - 1973

7. 1973 Quebec Nordiques
Puts us in the mood of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Quebec - 1973

8. 1975 Kansas City Scouts
Nothing like a defunct team’s Christmas card to get you all misty for the past.
Kansas City - 1975

9. 1977 Toronto Maple Leafs
Sittler, Salming, McDonald, Turnbull, Ballard and…Horton?
Toronto - 1977

10. 2004 Buffalo Sabres
A little holiday cheese with your cheer? Hall-of-Famers Pat LaFontaine, Gilbert Perreault and Dale Hawerchuk get in the spirit.
Buffalo - 2004