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.
If you enjoy card games like “Trumps” — where the highest card wins — or “Go Fish,” but wish they somehow involved hockey, then you should check out Legends International Ice Hockey Trumps Game. It is a new card game from Switzerland that features 40 eye-catching illustrations of the best hockey players from around the world.
Sold as a full deck online, Legends Trumps Game shows your favorite Hall of Fame players like you’ve never seen them before.
Upper Deck’s MVP Hockey Set was released two months before the start of the season, making it the first hockey card set of 2016-17. Sets released before the start of the season cannot include cards of players who were drafted over the summer or who have not yet played in a single NHL game, so the rookies found in MVP are players who made their debut late last season. Thus, no Auston Matthews or Patrick Laine in this set, though you can hope to pull a rookie redemption card to get cards of those players mailed to you at a later date.
A box of 2016-17 MVP costs around $40 and contains 20 packs. Each pack has eight cards. Although the set came out earlier in the season, I finally opened a box of 2016-17 MVP Hockey. Here is what I got.
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.
The NHL held a celebrity hockey game, called the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout, prior to the All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday. Unfortunately, the game was only shown online, and while the webcast could have been so much better, the game was still fun to watch.
Singer, songwriter and pop icon Justin Bieber was among the celebrity hockey players, and while I am not a fan of his music, I will admit that he did very well for himself in the game. Bieber’s skating was solid, and though his slap shots left a lot to be desired, he drew a penalty, assisted on a goal and popped in an empty-netter at the end of the game.
So, I decided to make some custom Justin Bieber hockey cards, because he was arguably the most-skilled celebrity at the All-Star Celebrity Shootout.
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.
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.
Upper Deck issued its new Artifacts Hockey set at the start of this season, making it one of the earliest releases for 2016-17. A box costs around $85 to $90 online and has eight packs. Each pack has four cards. The box states that you can get “3 Autograph, Memorabilia or All New Aurum Cards & 4 Serial Numbered Cards!” in the box, on average. I recently busted a box of 2016-17 Artifacts — here’s what I found: