This 2014-15 Upper Deck hockey card of Martin St. Louis does not have an autograph on it, nor does it have a piece of jersey embedded in it. And you know what? It doesn’t need any of those gimmicks to be the best hockey card of the season. All it needed was this amazing photograph that, coincidentally, was taken exactly one year ago today.
St. Louis became an inspiration to his New York Rangers teammates during the 2014 playoffs. He lost his mother to a heart attack on May 8, 2014, and yet suited up to play for his team the very next day. The Rangers were facing elimination, down 3-1 in their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. St. Louis’ presence in the lineup motivated his teammates to win that night, and the next two games, to eliminate the Penguins in seven games and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Throughout the playoffs, St. Louis led his team with eight goals and was second in scoring with 15 points.
The photo in on the card was taken on May 29, 2014 during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, when the Rangers eliminated the Montreal Canadiens to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years.
And everything about this photo is awesome. First, the low angle makes the diminutive St. Louis look grandeur in stature, as we look up at him. Because the shot was taken from such a low perspective, we see the rafters of Madison Square Garden, which draw our eye to the subject. St. Louis is also hitting the brakes pretty hard, showering ice everywhere and heightening the drama. A few lens flares at the left of the picture just make it even more intense.
Almost all cards in Upper Deck Series One and Series Two have excellent photography, but this card is a cut above, with so much action and visual information packed into that 2 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ rectangle. You can keep your autographs and limited-to-99 parallels. This card has everything this collector would want — even complete stats on the back, too. ■