On the surface, the 2018 calendar year may have seemed a bit slow when it came to hockey cards and collectibles. Only one company makes licensed NHL hockey cards, so there is no real head-to-head competition. Still, that didn’t stop one card company from foiling the plans of another. Plus, there was plenty of competition in a record-breaking auction. A few other significant happenings took place in the world of hockey collecting. Here is my list of the top hockey collectible stories for 2018.
1. Connor McDavid RC Tops $55K
A 2015-16 The Cup auto/patch Connor McDavid rookie card sold at an auction for $55,655 back in May 2018. This makes it the most-expensive modern hockey card in history.
2. “Hockey Card Stories 2” is Released
Books about hockey cards do not get published very often, so when one does come out, it is always cause for celebration. “Hockey Card Stories 2” picks up where its precursor left off, namely the hockey card boom of the 1990s, and asks former NHL players what they thought about some of their most memorable cards. (Read my full review of “Hockey Card Stories 2” here.)
3. National Hockey Card Day Returns for 2018
Upper Deck’s popular hockey card giveaway returned for a 10th year in Canada, and the 7th year in the United States. Some of the short-printed inserts included Young Guns reprints in Canadian packs and Vegas Golden Knights “Inaugural Images” cards in U.S. packs. Not surprisingly, National Hockey Card Day will be back again in 2019.
4. Tim Horton’s Set Also Returns for 2018
The chain of coffee and doughnut shops in Canada released its popular hockey card set for a 4th season in a row. The set isn’t cheap ($1.99 for a 3-card pack, or $1.00 per pack with drink purchase), and the collation is bad, but that doesn’t stop Tim Horton’s from selling out every year.
5. Gritty Gets Carded
Gritty has been around for only three months, but he has more hockey cards than any other NHL mascot. Heck, he has more cards than some NHL players! Upper Deck has issued three Gritty trading cards so far, while Topps released 12 digital trading cards of Gritty on its Skate Mobile app in December. Upper Deck will release its fourth Gritty card this Saturday!
6. No Autographed Cup RCs for Hischier or Patrick
Leaf Trading Cards signed Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, who were selected first and second overall respectively at the 2017 NHL Draft, to exclusive autograph deals. This means that neither will sign hockey cards for Upper Deck. So, when Upper Deck’s 2017-18 The Cup came out in October, neither the cards of Hischier or Patrick were autographed. Both cards were limited to 99 copies and featured a piece of memorabilia, but still, it’s crazy to think that the top two draft picks that year have Cup RCs without autographs. Well played, Leaf.
7. OYO Discontinues NHL Figures
OYO Sports, who makes small, block-like figures of athletes from all the major leagues, announced that it will no longer make figures of current NHL players. OYO will continue to make minor league and specialty hockey figures, including figures for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals and a playset featuring the characters from Over the Boards.
8. The Sport Card & Memorabilia Expos
The twice-annual Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo continued in 2018, featuring hundreds of tables of hockey collectibles and a lineup of NHL greats as autograph guests. The Expo is considered the world’s biggest hockey card and collectible convention.
9. The Phil Kessel Hot Dog Card
The Phil Kessel / hot dog story has been talked about to death, but the whole rumor / internet troupe became immortalized on an Upper Deck “Day with the Cup” card that was inserted in packs of 2017-18 Upper Deck Series Two Hockey. The card pictures Kessel on a golf course with a Stanley Cup full of hot dogs. I think Phil gets the last — and best — laugh here.
10. Scott Foster Gets Real Rookie Cards
Scott Foster made national (and even international) headlines last March when he stepped in between the pipes for the Chicago Blackhawks as an emergency goalie. Foster made seven saves during 14 minutes of game play. I did make a bunch of sweet custom cards depicting everyone’s favorite emergency backup goalie, but Foster finally got a real rookie card, as part of the Marquee Rookies subset in the 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee release. There were also several parallel versions of the card, for a total of eight Scott Foster rookie cards to collect. Not bad for 14 minutes of work!
What do you think was the biggest hockey collectibles story of the season? Or did I leave something out? Leave a reply and let me know. ■
Special thanks to Tim Parish and Larry Berman for their help with this list.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.