Another set that was released a year after it was supposed to is 2021-22 SPx Hockey by Upper Deck, which came out at the end of March 2023. A box of SPx costs around $130 and contains four packs. Each pack contains one card.
I’ll say that again for emphasis: a box of 2021-22 SPx Hockey costs $130, and contains four one-card packs. Math may not be my strong suit, but that averages to $32.50 per card.
With a buy-in like that, SPx is not for the meek. It’s a high-risk / high-reward type of set where you get at least two “hits” per box — those hits being either autographs, memorabilia cards, or one of each. The other two cards are referred to as “Tech Cards,” presumably because they go above and beyond standard card design.
I recently opened a box of 2021-22 SPx Hockey. Let’s see what I got.
Pack #1: Radiant FX Rookies
My first one-card pack had a Radiance FX Rookies card of Ottawa Senators defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker. It is a two-layer card, with the bottom layer printed on PETG plastic and the top layer printed on foil board…much like Synergy cards. This card is serial-numbered 041/150. This counts as one of my two “Tech Cards” in this box.
Pack #2: Autographed Card
Wow, if I was a Sens fan, I’d be pretty enthused about getting two Senators cards in my first two packs. What are the odds? Anyway, this Brady Tkachuk card is signed on a sticker that has been affixed to the card; a.k.a. the much-derided “sticker auto.” I don’t mind sticker autos per se, but would have liked this card better if it was applied just a little bit lower so that it does not overlap the top silver stripe of that hockey-stick-shaped design element. I like Brady Tkachuk; like his brother, he is a tough player with an excellent scoring touch.
Pack #3 Shadow Box Rookies
Nice card! This Jamie Drysdale Shadow Box Rookies card is super-thick. As the name implies, it has a shadowbox design, with the background photo in a recessed area. This was the second”Tech Card” in my box of SPx.
Pack #4: Rookie Jersey Gold Spectrum
The memorabilia card in my box is of Red Wings rookie — well, during the 2021-22 season — Joe Velleno. It is numbered 59/99. Unfortunately, it has a dreaded white patch…but I guess that’s okay, since he is pictured wearing a white Red Wings jersey.
SPx Hockey is a tough sell for me. It’s an expensive product and you don’t get a lot of cards for the money. You do get cards that are serial-numbered, autographed, and or contain a piece of memorabilia, so it does feel like getting four hits instead of two. But I wonder why Upper Deck doesn’t just make SPx a one-pack product like Black Diamond, instead of teasing out four cards in four packs? Anyway, for the price, you would think that all cards in this set would be serial-numbered, and that the jersey cards would be a little nicer. However, you can potentially get some great hits, such as rookie autograph patch cards. If you are the daring type, SPx might be for you.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■