Upper Deck made waves in the trading card industry last week, releasing a new digital trading card platform called e-Pack. Unlike other digital trading cards, e-Pack cards have physical counterparts. Well, the hits and inserts do anyway, while the base cards exist only in digital form. However, base cards can be upgraded for foil parallels, and these foil parallels, along with the hits, can be shipped to the collector, making e-Pack the first of its kind in the trading card world.
Chris Carlin, senior marketing and social media manager of Upper Deck, had a discussion with me about the new e-Pack platform, why collectors should be excited, while retailers shouldn’t be worried, and how e-Pack will succeed where others have not.
Upper Deck has upped their game with this year’s release of Black Diamond Hockey. Over the past decade, Black Diamond was one of those $100-per-box, impossible-to-complete sets that most collectors bought just for the hits. So, in 2015-16, Upper Deck has made Black Diamond all about the hits. Seems like an obvious idea, but it was a great idea, too.
This year, a box of Black Diamond contains only one five-card pack, plus a bonus pack of Exquisite Hockey. (Collectors can find packs of Exquisite Hockey in other sets released throughout 2015-16.) Of all the six cards, they are either an autograph, a jersey card and/or a card serial-numbered to 199 copies or less. But all those hits come with a price; a box of 2015-16 Black Diamond costs $250.
I recently busted a box of 2015-16 Black Diamond. Let’s see what treasures were found within.
John Scott’s selection to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game is not without precedent. Having a guy known more for punching than puckhandling play in the NHL All-Star Game, while rare, has happened on several occasions.
Then there is the curious case of Chris Nilan, whose near-appearance in the 1991 All-Star Game was, until now, the most controversial selection ever made.
When I started watching hockey as a kid, I latched onto the Chicago Blackhawks because I lived in Chicago, and that made sense to me. My younger sister decided that she was going to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan because she was 11 years old and liked penguins. That sounded silly to me as a kid, but now I wouldn’t judge.
People decide to become fans of teams for different reasons. Likewise, our reasons for liking certain athletes are varied, too. As a kid, I looked up to Dirk Graham because he was a hard-working player, and would have loved to have seen him play in an NHL All-Star Game. And even though he won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward, he was never selected for an All-Star Game. If he ever was, it would probably have been at the expense of a more offensively-gifted player. But who cares? Graham was my guy, and I wanted to see him succeed.
Fans should be allowed to like what sport, league, team or player they choose, for whatever reasons they wish. That said, no matter why fans voted for John Scott to be in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, the NHL owes it to both the fans and to Scott to honor their end of the deal — regardless of whether Scott participates as a member of the Arizona Coyotes, the Montreal Canadiens, the St. John’s IceCaps or the Tallahassee Warthogs.
Chicago Blackhawks prospect Vince Hinostroza became part of an exclusive group when he made his NHL debut earlier this season. Born in the town of Barltett, IL — about a 40 minute drive from Chicago — he became the latest player from the Chicago area to wear the famous Indian-head sweater. Other players in that club include former Blackhawks Chris Chelios, Ed Olczyk and Craig Anderson; current Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling; and Rockford IceHogs teammate Ryan Hartman.
Hinostroza, a forward, was drafted by the Blackhawks in the 6th round (169th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. During the 2012-13 season, he played Division 1 NCAA hockey for Notre Dame and was named to Hockey East’s All-Rookie Team. The following year, Hinostroza led the team in scoring and was named to Hockey East’s First All-Star Team. He is currently in his first season of pro hockey with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, where he is fifth in scoring. He was also called up for a four-game stint with the Blackhawks.
I spoke with Hinostroza about his college days, adapting to new teammates and being on the ice at the United Center instead of looking down at it from the stands.
Sal Barry: What was your earliest hockey memory?
Vince Hinostroza: When I was three years old, I started skating with my cousin and my dad at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Skating without a stick. And when I was four, I remember joining my first team.
SB: At four years old? Do you remember how you did?
VH: I remember stepping off of the bench and coming onto the ice for my first shift, ever, actually.
VH: Well, I remember my parents telling me about it.
I was excited when I first saw the promotional images of Upper Deck Full Force, a new hockey card set for the 2015-16 season. From what I could tell, it seemed like a set that would have a very 1990s look and feel to it, with lots of fun inserts and/or subsets. Plus, the name “Full Force” just sounds like it would have been right at home with other 1990s sets such as “Metal Universe” and “Electric Ice.”
A hobby box of Full Force has 18 five-card packs and costs in the $65-$75 range online. Here is a breakdown of a box I recently got my hands on:
Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who enjoyed Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story, a television miniseries that first aired on CBC in 2010. Two years later, the Don of Hockey was the subject of a second three-hour miniseries, The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II — a great title for a great follow-up.
Happy 2016. While I am excited about the new year and all the potential it brings, I would like to take just a moment to reflect on 2015. It was a heck of a year at Puck Junk. This site enjoyed more visits in 2015 than in the previous two years combined, and I have all of you to thank for that. There’s a good chance that you’ve already read these “Top Articles of 2015.” But if not, here is a handy list of this site’s “must reads” for 2015.
Steve Galvao is a good old Canadian kid who grew up loving hockey and collecting hockey cards. To see more of Steve’s work, visit his website, the Shoebox Collection. You can view his earlier blog posts here. Follow Steve on Twitter@galvaost. ■