First MLB, then NBA and now the NHL is going exclusive with its trading card licenses. In a multi-year deal announced Feb. 27, Upper Deck will be the exclusive licensed manufacturer of NHL trading cards, beginning with the 2014-15 season. Panini is out as a licensee.
Upper Deck had been the exclusive trading card partner from 2004 through 2009-10, and is currently one of two licensed manufacturers (Panini is the other) through the 2013-14 season. Upper Deck has held NHL and NHLPA trading card licenses since the 1990-91 season.
“The players are excited about the direction Upper Deck is taking NHL trading cards –
not only in product development and collectability – but also in adapting to the needs of
an ever-evolving hobby and retail landscape,” said Adam Larry, NHLPA Director of
Licensing. “We’re extremely pleased to continue our partnership with Upper Deck – now
25 years and counting – and look forward to working with them and all the category
stakeholders to enhance hockey trading cards for current and future collectors alike.
While we are excited about the future of hockey trading cards, we would be remiss if we
did not thank Panini America, and we look forward to their remaining hockey card
Added Dave McCarthy, NHL Vice President of Consumer Products Licensing, Hardlines, “For nearly 25 years, Upper Deck has been delighting and surprising NHL fans and collectors with innovative officially-licensed hockey trading cards and collectibles. “Upper Deck’s passion for our sport is evident with their commitment to making great products, marketing them aggressively and seeking new ways to enhance our fans and collectors’ love of the game. We are proud to extend the exclusive license for trading cards to Upper Deck and look forward to working closely with all stakeholders for category growth in the coming years.”
The first product to be released under the new agreement will be MVP, arriving in
August with a 300-card base set and an array of enticing parallels. O-Pee-Chee, the most comprehensive base set of the year, featuring 600 different player cards. will be making a return in September. In October, Artifacts will feature memorabilia and autograph cards.
After NHL and NHLPA license announcement, Panini released the following statement:
“We are disappointed to learn of the NHL and NHLPA’s decision to go in another direction in the trading card category,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. “During the term of our agreement we faced many challenges, including a late start to the agreement and an NHL work stoppage. Through all of the challenges we established trading card hockey brands that collectors came to love and look forward to including Dominion, Prime, Rookie Anthology, Limited and Totally Certified. Our marketing is unprecedented in the category, including activation and marketing support around the global NHL Premiere Games, the two All-Star Games that were played during our four-year agreement, Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, NHL Faceoff, NHL Draft, Stanley Cup and this year’s outdoor NHL Stadium Series. Our commitment and investment with NHL Teams and individual NHL Players to produce great Panini Hockey trading card products is unsurpassed in the trading card category and will continue to be until our license expires on June 30.
“While we never like to lose a license that we were committed to, this decision gives us the opportunity to further enhance our other sports licensed products. We’ll continue to innovate and grow the trading card category for the NBA, NFL/NFLPA, MLBPA, 2014 FIFA World Cup and expand our strategic initiatives in these core sports on a global level.”