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.
Doughnut lovers have National Doughnut Day. Vinyl aficionados have Record Store Day. Hockey card collectors have a day of our own, too. Saturday, February 18 is National Hockey Card Day. Set your alarm, grab some coffee and head out to your local card shop – or maybe a few card shops — and get some free hockey cards.
National Hockey Card Day, or NHCD as us cool kids abbreviate it, started in Canada in 2009 and in the U.S. in 2012. Collectors who visit a participating card shop can get a free pack of exclusive Upper Deck hockey cards. Each pack has five cards. A bonus card can also be acquired by making a $10 purchase.
Center Ice subscribers who wanted to see Patrick Marleau score his 500th career goal Thursday night were denied the opportunity. For reasons unknown, the game was not televised on Center Ice, the subscription service that lets fans watch every out-of-market NHL game.
Well, every game except the one where a 19-year NHL veteran, on the brink of becoming the 45th player in NHL history to score 500 goals, scored his 500th goal.
But hey — the Oilers-Predators, Jets-Stars and Leafs-Blues games had two feeds each on Center Ice.
As a Center Ice subscriber, I expected to watch the Sharks-Canucks game live. That is why I pay for Center Ice. I was hoping to see Marleau score his milestone goal Thursday night. Instead, I got to see it online after the fact.
I am in Chicago — about 2,160 miles from San Jose and 2,200 miles from Vancouver — so it is safe to say that I am not in either team’s broadcast territory and subject to blackouts. I figured that this might have been a problem with my cable provider, Comcast.
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.
Upper Deck announced some changes yesterday to their e-Pack platform as a means to reduce the potential glut of insert and parallel hockey cards available on the secondary market. In a nutshell, physical insert and parallel cards obtained through e-Pack can now be combined to make an even more-limited parallel of the same card. This is bad news for those who are already sick of parallel cards, and even worse news for those who enjoyed scooping up cheap hockey cards as a result of e-Pack. So, will this move save e-Pack?
Welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends. Time for another edition of Best of the Worst of Upper Deck! Let’s all take a moment to appreciate just how far we’ve come with the photography and printing technology that bring us such stunning pictures in a little foil pack. The imagery is unparalleled with anything we’ve had in decades past; it truly does bring us closer to the game.
Not only was 2016 a great year for hockey collectibles, but it was a great year for this website, too. Readership has steadily grown over the past nine years, and I have all of you to thank for that. While I am working on some new articles for 2017, I just wanted to share this list of “must reads” from the past year. These were Puck Junk’s top articles from 2016: