A short while ago, my online retailer of choice offered a case break of 2015-16 Upper Deck Black, and I’m guessing the 30 spots were not selling as quickly as they’d hoped. It was the day of the scheduled break, most of the spots were still open and so they PUT IT ON SALE! A pretty decent chunk off, too. Since I had a little money to spare, felt like gambling and never owned any UD Black hockey cards before, I decided to buy a spot.
Time rolls around, the video feed starts and I see my name next to the Maples Leafs. OK, this is promising. Oh wait, they have to run the randomizer and shake up the teams. Shake, shake, shake….
Back in March, I wrote a long-winded opinion piece on how Upper Deck can improve their Series One and Series Two hockey card sets. But I hate to just wish for things; I want them to happen. So I forwarded my article to Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s Senior Marketing & Social Media Manager.
Not only did Chris read my article, but he actually addressed all of my points. As collectors, many times we believe that the card companies can make what we think are a few easy changes that will make us happier. Well, it turns out that those changes aren’t always easy to make as they might seem — and they won’t necessarily make collecting better, either.
Here’s a summary of each point from my prior article, along with Chris’ response to each one. Maybe you will learn something; I know I did.
Y’all — that means “You All” for the Yankees — the hockey card market is getting out of hand. Normally I’d look at buying a box of Upper Deck Series One or Two to enjoy, save the hits, collect a few of the players I like, and entertain everyone with another Best of the Worst post. This past fall with Series One, I dragged my feet on writing that post because there weren’t a whole lot of crazy photos and I wasn’t super-inspired.
I also wasn’t too crazy about the price I paid for the box vs. the cards that I got out of it. Two out of three boxes didn’t yield a jersey card, and outside of a mildly-rarer Shining Stars Alex Ovechkin and one or two Young Guns that may or may not pan out, it was fairly hitless. I shopped around to buy that box online for $70-75; in a local shop it would have cost me at least $85 to $100! The same goes for Series Two which was released in March. Looking at the list of who is in that set and the likelihood of getting anything of value, I can’t say it’s worth the price of admission. There just isn’t much going on in there.
How long is too long when waiting for a redemption card to arrive? Six months? A year? Two years? More? My most recent redemption took nearly four years of waiting, followed by four weeks of nagging, but it finally arrived.
Recently, in my never-ending request to clear the piles of cards off of my desk, I found a redemption card that I had redeemed long ago. This was supposed to get me an autographed Akim Aliu rookie card from the 2012-13 Panini Limited Hockey set. I opened a box of these cards way back in mid-2013, registered the redemption number via Panini’s website, and then forgot about it. So did Panini.
Last month, 2016-17 Upper Deck Series Two was released in stores and online shops. Other than a few packs I bought to get a promotional card on National Hockey Card Day, I have avoided buying Upper Deck Series One and Upper Deck Series Two this year. Since 1990, Upper Deck’s flagship “Upper Deck” hockey card set was something I always looked forward to. It was usually the biggest and best hockey card set every year during that decade, and set the high-water mark in quality for the hobby.
But over time, Upper Deck Series One and Series Two have become somewhat…uninspired. Routine. Even boring. This year’s Series One Hockey set has 198 base cards of veteran players, two checklists, 49 short-printed Young Guns rookie cards and one short-printed Young Guns checklist. Likewise, this year’s Series Two Hockey set has 198 base cards of veteran players, two checklists, 49 short-printed Young Guns rookie cards and one short-printed Young Guns checklist.
Other than a little variation in the number of Young Guns, that has pretty much been Upper Deck’s script since 2005-06, and frankly, it is time for a change.
Don’t get me wrong. The cards themselves look great and are of high quality. But even if you ate your favorite food for a month straight, it will still get dull. So it is time for Upper Deck to spice things up and not just do what has been working, but to seek to make things better. Here are seven ways that would improve Upper Deck Series One and Series Two.
Sometimes, the level of amateurishness displayed by the NHL in 2017 surprises me. The league held a celebrity all-star game on Saturday prior to the NHL Skills Competition. One player in the game was international pop sensation Justin Bieber. And yet, the NHL didn’t even bother to televise this game — not even on the NHL Network, which just ran a bunch of talking heads in that time slot.
The NHL streamed the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout on its website, and did a lousy job of it too, wasting the opportunity to raise the game’s profile and hopefully get a few new fans in the process.
The two teams — named Team Gretzky (home) and Team Lemieux (away) — had a lot of retired greats in the lineup, like Joe Sakic, Luc Robitaille, Sergei Fedorov, Peter Forsberg, Borje Salming and Larry Robinson. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux served as the coaches. Current stars Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid played, too. Celebrities like actor Cuba Gooding Jr. and movie director/producer Jerry Bruckheimer also laced them up.
Twenty-five years ago was the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Just like Austin Mathews today is unanimously considered the best prospect in this year’s draft, everyone in 1991 thought the same of Eric Lindros.
Lindros was considered “The Next One” since he was 14 years old. And who could argue? He was 6’4″ and 230 pounds. He scored 149 points in 57 games during his last season of major junior hockey. Lindros was a dominant force that could control the game. But would NHL scouts and GMs spend a first-overall pick on The Big E, or someone else, knowing then what we know now?
So, let’s imagine that we could re-do the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Let’s set our Wayback Machines to June 22, 1991, pack an iPad with Hockey DB and Hockey Reference already bookmarked — we’ll worry about finding a WiFi hot spot when we get there — and see how the first round of the 1991 Draft would have played out in our alternate timeline.
Earlier this month, blogger Kin Kinsley asked the pointed question “Is Upper Deck e-Pack Killing Card values?” It is a great article worth reading, and much of my article here draws from the research Kin conducted earlier. In summary, the droves of collectors opening “virtual packs” of 2015-16 Upper Deck Series One and Series Two at the e-Pack website, coupled with the convenience of physical inserts already being housed at Check Out My Cards, has led to a glut of inserts listed on the COMC website for dirt cheap.
The shock of the Chicago Blackhawks losing to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night has not quote worn off yet — at least not among the die-hard fans who didn’t want to even think about baseball until June. Surely, weren’t the Blackhawks supposed to win the Stanley Cup this year, becoming the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back championships? Alas, it was not meant to be. Game 7 was close. The entire Blackhawks-Blues first round series was close. But being close isn’t good enough when you are down a goal on the losing end.
Still, let us not forget that the 2015-16 season was nothing to frown upon. From on the ice, to behind the bench, to the front office, it was a great season overall for the Chicago Blackhawks. Here are the top six highlights from the year that was.
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.