“Daddy! It’s National Hockey Card Day!” exclaimed Tom Poray’s two young daughters on the morning of February 23. Such youthful exuberance would normally be reserved for a holiday like Christmas or Halloween. Yet since 2009 in Canada and 2012 in the United States, Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day has slowly and steadily transformed into an event that families look forward to each year.
Throughout the day, anyone who visited a participating card shop in Canada or the U.S. was given a free, five-card pack of hockey cards. Like every year, the Canadian and American sets differ, and each set has 16 cards. Cards 1-15 were available in the free foil packs, while the last card was given to a customer if they made a $10 purchase. This year, the bonus cards were of John Tavares in the Canadian set and Alexander Ovechkin in the American set.
Fans in both countries could also hope to pull an insert or autographed card. Some big box stores, such as Toys R Us in Canada and Dick’s Sporting Goods in several eastern U.S. states, also gave away perforated, nine-card sheets of hockey cards.
Poray, who is from Guelph, Ontario, looks forward to National Hockey Card Day each year, as do his two daughters, ages 7 and 5. This year, he took them to four different shops so that they could get enough packs to each build a set.
“To me, this is phenomenal,” he said. “This isn’t something that I’m pushing on my girls. It’s nice to see that level of enthusiasm not directed at a video game or a screen.”
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.