Hobby Musings: UD Continues NHL Card Legacy with License ExtensionHobby Musings: UD Continues NHL Card Legacy with License Extension – Amid all the big news in the hobby lately, Upper Deck recently made some of its own with an extension of their exclusive NHL card licenseHockey isn’t the only thing on Upper Deck’s docket as the company will soon be rolling out its inaugural AEW product.  To find out about what the extended NHL license and AEW mean for the company, I had the chance to catch up with Chris Carlin via email.

KS: Chris, Upper Deck recently announced an extension with the NHL and NHLPA regarding the exclusive license for NHL trading cards. In a nutshell, what does this mean?
It means that collectors will be able to continue to enjoy the hobby of collecting NHL cards no matter where or how they shop. Whether they get their cards from hobby shops, retail locations, online, through e-Pack or even at Tim Horton’s, that isn’t going to change. Most importantly, the brands collectors have come to love will continue on given fans a lasting collecting legacy.

KS: Why decide to make this decision on the extension now?
With uncertainty looming in the changing landscape of trading card industry, the NHL and NHLPA wanted their fans and collectors to know that they are invested and listening and making a long-term decision that will benefit the fans and the league both now and for the long-haul.

KS:  I also saw that NFTs were included as part of the agreement. What is the significance of that part of the deal?
This was another key element to an early renewal because Upper Deck has been working on a new collectibles platform called Evolution that will take NFTs to the next level. Upper Deck was the first manufacturer to develop an immersive online collectible experience through e-Pack (upperdeckepack.com) so this will be the “evolution” of that taking on NFT collectibles.

KS: Overall, how long does the deal go for?
The deal is a long-term extension that will benefit fans and collectors for the foreseeable future.

KS: The NHL season started up a few weeks ago. So far, which rookies from this season have you been hearing collectors clamor for cards of?
Hot out of the gate are a pair of Detroit Red Wings rookies in Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. Cole Caufield of the Montreal Canadiens has been the one fans have been most excited about. His Young Guns card will take the heralded #201 slot in the 2021-22 NHL Upper Deck Series One set. Anaheim has a pair of special “Young Guns” in Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale who will be fun to watch this season. Across the way the LA Kings have a talented player in Quinton Byfield who will be making his mark on the league in a big way after his ankle heals up and he is back on the ice. This is a special year for goalies potentially as well, so look for Spencer Knight in Florida, Jeremy Swayman in Boston and (try saying that name five times fast) to stop their fair share of pucks this season as they work to become the next Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Hobby Musings: UD Continues NHL Card Legacy with License Extension

Hobby Musings: UD Continues NHL Card Legacy with License ExtensionKS: Shifting gears from hockey, you’ve got a new wrestling product coming out soon for AEW. You announced this one a few months back, but was has reception and anticipation been like for this it?
The excitement around the Upper Deck AEW set has been off the charts and far greater that we expected. Preview cards for the set have been top sellers on Upper Deck e-Pack and our sales team is being asked daily by shops, “How can I get more?” AEW has been a tremendous partner thus far sharing information about the trading card products during broadcasts. There are so many legendary names and star power in the AEW that it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch as packs start getting ripped heading into winter.

KS: How has it been different in getting your AEW product off the ground in comparison to a sport like hockey?
Similar to the NHL, the AEW has fan base that is equally as passionate. Well the first product is being built very much like our flagship Upper Deck NHL product so it will have something for every level of collector with great photography and well-known inserts. Everyone will be clamoring to get their hands on the debut product for sure, but there will not just be one AEW release a year. So get ready for some hard-hitting collectibles of the AEW’s best to make their way to the market over the next year and beyond.

KS: What are some of the highlights collectors should expect from the first AEW product?
The inaugural AEW set will also include rare autographs and memorabilia cards showcasing items like wrestler-worn shirts and mats used in matches. Fans can also look for serial-numbered inserts like Exclusives and High Gloss, colorful parallels printed on patterned foil board, and printing plate cards.

KS: A few weeks ago, Upper Deck announced that it was pushing back the release dates on some NHL products, while cancelling others.  What went into the decision to do so, and how were Ice and Trilogy picked as the products to not produce?
It’s not a decision we wanted to make or that we took lightly. Trilogy and ICE are technology-based products that are difficult to acquire materials for during this temporary supply chain crunch.

KS: What does the cancellation of those products this year mean for their futures?
These cancellations are in no way a reflection on future releases. Although we never want to have to cancel a product, making the tough decision to do so now will allow us to get more products out to our consumer base in a timely manner moving forward. It is critical that people realize that Trilogy and ICE are brands that are not going away and that Upper Deck believes in. They are simply being put on the shelf for now to help improve the pipeline. I know that there are some key components to this year’s ICE product that will be a part of the 2021-22 release, so fans of that release should look for more details on that when we solicit the product.

KS: Are there any other products from the current release calendar that are slated for potential cancellation?
No. I think if you look at the calendar and see all the releases we have hitting stores shelves into the holidays and spanning into 2022, Upper Deck will have plenty of products that are sure to keep collectors fired up beginning with Tim Horton’s NHL this week, Upper Deck Series One NHL, MVP NHL, Team Canada World Juniors, Ultimate Collection NHL, Upper Deck AEW, Stature NHL, UD Premier NHL, Goodwin Champions, SP Authentic NHL, Skybox Metal Universe Champions, SP Authentic Golf and many more. This doesn’t even include a cavalcade of launches from our entertainment team for games like Vs. System, Legendary and some other surprises. It’s a great time to be a collector and Upper Deck invites you all to collect the best.

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Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.

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