The homeless scuffle over crumbs, the poor haggle over bites, and the millionaires and billionaires?
The latest NHL lockout is proof, once again, that we’re just people and pie. No matter the size, there’s always going to be a fight for a larger slice.
With that in mind, whenever the NHL starts play again, I’ll be back. Castigating men for greed is better left to a monk.
What I do hope is that this lockout produces a curiosity as memorable as this one from hockey’s last nuclear winter.
Milan Hejduk looks as befuddled by this color “scheme”—”scheme” implying actual forethought—as many collectors were when Upper Deck released 2004-05 All-World.
In the midst of a lockout that would eventually see the entire season wiped out, a number of NHL stars played overseas to stay in shape and in the black. Upper Deck capitalized on the now apparently once-in-a-decade opportunity to capture familiar stars in unfamiliar surroundings.
The garish 90-card base set, which is made up mostly of stars who went overseas such as Jaromir Jagr in Russia and Joe Thornton in Switzerland, is also peppered with retired European legends like Hakan Loob and Vladislav Tretiak in club uniforms.
Supplementing the base set is Up Close & Personal, a shortprinted 15-card subset of North American stars in mostly awkward studio shots, seemingly an excuse to shoehorn Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe into the set.
Following that is the far more appropriate Euro Legends, another shortprinted 15-card subset which closes up on European-trained stars, past and present, like Teemu Selanne, Jari Kurri, and Tretiak.
As for inserts, each of the 90-card base set has a Gold parallel serial numbered to 50.
About half of the 90-card base set also has a parallel autograph, highlighted by an affordable Tretiak signature. Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Rick Nash head an extensive shortprinted autograph list.
Even more shortprinted are the parallel autographs of the Up Close & Personal and Euro Legends subsets. Serial numbered to 10, this is where collectors can be grateful to the company for shoving Gretzky and Howe in. However, not every player in the subsets has a parallel autograph; besides Gretzky and Howe, you can also hope to pull, among others, Nash, Martin St. Louis, Kurri, Tretiak, and Igor Larionov.
Finally, there are Dual (serial numbered to 25), Triple (serial numbered to 20), Quad (serial numbered to 15), Five (serial numbered to 10), and Six (serial numbered to 5) Autographs featuring combinations as fitting as Marian and Marcel Hossa and as spectacular as Thornton, Nash, St. Louis, Dany Heatley, Daniel Briere, and Alex Tanguay.
Boxes, if you can find them, go for about $35, and contain 24 packs with 6 cards each. With that, you should easily complete one base set. Expect, on average, three cards each from the Up Close & Personal (1:8 packs) and Euro Legends (1:8 packs) subsets, and one autograph card (1:24 packs) from a box.
2004-05 Upper Deck All-World was a rushed and unimaginatively executed concept, but truly one-of-a-kind as the hobby’s only documentation of the lost season. The strange garb the stars donned was a sobering contrast to the many retro sets released that season. In the Game’s Franchises and Upper Deck’s Legendary Signatures and Legends Classics were popular, mostly well-crafted love letters to the NHL’s past, while All-World was an unpopular reminder of the reality of big business in hockey.
This reality, of course, is being repeated as we speak, and one can only hope that 2004-05 Upper Deck All-World is a one-and-only-time snapshot of a major professional North American sports league canceling an entire season because of a labor dispute.
But people and pie, that’s wishful thinking.
Sheng Peng is a Los Angeles Kings fan and has collected hockey cards since the 1990s. You can check out his blog here.