When is a rookie card not a rookie card?

RR-313_Niemi_99I’ve finally acquired one of the hardest-to-find cards for my 2010 Blackhawks RC project: a 2008-09 Be A Player Antti Niemi “Rookie Redemption” card. Even though it is a part of a set that predates Niemi’s rookie cards, this technically does not count as his rookie card. Confused? Intrigued? Then read on.

Ever since the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, I have been trying to track down a rookie card (RC) for every player on that team. Antti Niemi’s rookie cards appeared in the various 2009-10 sets, such as O-Pee-Chee, Black Diamond and Upper Deck. However, this Be A Player card is part of a 2008-09 set. The problem is, it came out after many of Niemi’s 2009-10 rookie cards.

RR-313_Niemi_99_backOK, so here’s the deal. This 2008-09 Be A Player Antti Niemi was a part of the 2008-09 Be A Player set, but this card was available via redemption and limited to 99 serial-numbered copies. The Niemi cards were not mailed out until after the start of the 2009-10 season, as evidenced  by the blurb on the back:

Niemi’s first career NHL shutout will always be a memorable one for him, as it came in Helsinki in front of his Finnish countrymen on 10/3/09. The Vantaa native stopped all 23 Florida shots he faced in a 4-0 ‘Hawks win at the 2009 NHL Premiere.

How about that? A 2008-09 card that talks about the 2009-10 season. Oddly enough, many of the Rookie Redemptions from the 2008-09 set are of player who didn’t play in the NHL until  2009-10, like John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk and Erik Karlsson. (Niemi is one of the few exceptions of a 2008-09 BAP Rookie Redemption player who actually did play in 2008-09).

Thus, all of these 2008-09 BAP Rookie Redemption cards have the unusual XRC designation from Beckett. The X, I believe, stands for eXtended, and the designation was used quite a bit in the 1980s and 1990s for rookie cards that predated a player’s “real” rookie card, but wasn’t officially recognized for one reason or another.

In the case of this Niemi card, it probably doesn’t count as an RC because collectors were able to get other cards of Niemi in an NHL uniform before this one. And yet I still wanted it for some inexplicable reason.

Collecting! Am I right?


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

7 thoughts on “When is a rookie card not a rookie card?”

  1. It all depends on the collector. If you need it for your collection, does it matter if it is a RC or it isn’t? But for a seller, it’s a different story. I always thought TRUE RC’s were ones that were available ONLY in packs, not pack-less sets like ToppsT/ScoreR&T/FleerU, etc. But then McD’s cards turned into RCs due to Sid’s RC. However, UD Overtime & NHCDay packs also have RC’s but AREN’T classified as RCs. But ITG H&P will NEVER be classed as RCs because they’re NOT licenced NHL cards. There seems to be too much GRAY creeping into the hobby because of darn redemption cards. Get rid of them (ALL OF THEM) and it will all sort itself out. That’s my $0.05 worth.

    1. Tell me about it. It seems that if a card is TOO EASY or TOO HARD to get, then it IS NOT a rookie card.

      Cards numbered less than 99 fall under “too hard.” 99 is the magic number because Beckett, sellers and I’m assuming collectors want to consider Sidney Crosby’s 2005-06 Ice card a “true” RC.

      On the other hand, sets like Ovation and NHCD fall under “too easy,” which is unfortunate. I don’t know why 2007-08 Ovation — or heck, the Rookie Class set from *any* year — do not count as RCs.

  2. If we follow the logic, the McDo’s Crosby card should not be considered rookie since it was easy to obtain. But it is considered. Normally, to be a rookie card, the card must be numbered as part of a product’s base set. Thus, insert cards or parallels of any type are generally not considered to be rc cards. So why the NHCD rc are not considered then… or the Overtime ones like already said. Is it because we didn’t buy the packs… it was free?? So, why the ones previously fund in food product like Kraft aren’t?

    Concerning the XRC, they are usually redemption card that were issued in sets before the players played a game in the NHL like you said… Neimi is the only exception I know. And with the NHL rule of not including players before they have played an NHL game, these early cards cannot be considered real RC.

    Thank you for reading my comments!

  3. To me, there is TRC (True Rookie Card) and RYC (Rookie Year Card).

    A true rookie card is issued before he plays any NHL games or if he plays a number of NHL games in a season while being called up, such as when Dominik Hasek played 5 games for the Chicago BlackHawks and a card came out that recorded that.

    A rookie year card (RYC) is one where the back of the card has the player’s stats for his 1st year only – his rookie year.

    I consider the TRC the more valuable rookie, but I also consider the RYC a rookie card as well. Mario Lemieux’s Rookie card is actually a RYC and it sells for a fortune.

    There are alot of know-it-alls and Snobs in card collecting, but guys like me who know what we are talking about are able to make good money trading both TRCs and RYCs. We don’t shun the RYCs just because some uptight Snob trader thinks he knows it all.

    1. Interesting take: TRCs and RYCs. Never thought of them that way before…just as RCs or Pre-RCs.

      So, would you count Ed Belfour’s 1988-89 Blackhawks Team Issue card as his TRC, as it came out in his first season in the NHL? Or his 1988-89 ProCards Saginaw Hawks card? Just curios to know how you classify minor-league cards or team-issue cards.

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