Card of the Week: Rubber Deck?

1991-92 Topps Stadium Club card #290 – Daniel Berthiaume

Daniel Berthiaume Hockey CardLook over the stick hand of goaltender Daniel Berthiaume, and you’ll see what looks like the letters PBER. Look to the right – through the mesh of the net – and you’ll make out the Upper Deck logo. Daniel Berthiaume Hockey Card Detail

The fact that the Upper Deck name – though “modified” by Topps to be less recognizable – and logo appeared on a Topps hockey card is amusing, even 17 years after the fact. But how this sort of thing happened is a study of smart marketing.

Upper Deck grew exponentially since hitting the trading card scene with their baseball cards in 1989. In 1990, their hockey cards were a huge success and were well received by fans.

One major strategy of theirs was to try and become a household name, like McDonalds or Nike. A way to do this was getting their name out there where it would be seen. Reasoning that most hockey highlights shown on the news during the sports segment were goals, Upper Deck bought ad space on the end boards of as many hockey rinks as possible, including The Great Western Forum, because that’s where the goals happen.

While this made their brand name highly visible during games (both to live spectators and TV audiences) and news highlights, their logo also found their way on a two Topps cards – this one and the 1991-92 Topps card of Adrian Plasvic (though on the Plasvic card all you can really see is a blurry “PER D” in the background). On the Berthiaume card, Topps airbrushed the second P in “Upper”, changing it to a “B” to make it less obvious that it was their competitor’s logo on their card.

What intrigues me is why Topps chose this particular photo. Berthiaume played a lot of games for the Kings in 1990-91, so it isn’t like this was his only appearance in an L.A. uniform. It’s not a particularly exciting or engaging picture either. Plus, if another company was kicking your butt – much like Upper Deck did to all other card companies in the early 1990s – you’d probably want to avoid making any reference to them. Hell, Topps didn’t even acknowledge sister company O-Pee-Chee at this point, as on the back it states Berthiaume’s 1988 Topps card as his rookie card, even though his true RC was issued by O-Pee-Chee a year earlier.

Daniel Berthiaume Hockey CardRegardless, this may be the last time Topps took an airbrush to one of their hockey cards, even if to just alter an ad and not a uniform like they done so for many years in the past. And this is probably the only time you’ll see an Upper Deck logo – albeit partially – on another company’s card.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

3 thoughts on “Card of the Week: Rubber Deck?”

  1. IIRC, Topps airbrushed out a Donruss billboard from Lance Johnson’s 1992 Stadium Club baseball card.

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