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Reflecting on Collecting – From the World of “Why?”: 2009-10 Upper Deck “The Champions”

March 23, 2011

In a pair of previous posts (find them here and here), I looked at things that I have seen or done in my hobby of collecting sports cards and memorabilia that have left me wondering “why?”

Today’s article returns to that theme as a result of a card that I came across at a card store I went to in the Ottawa area while I was there visiting my brother in January.

I should start by saying that I have never been a fan cards inserted into the products of a specific sport featuring athletes or celebrities that have nothing to do with what the overall product is meant to be about. 

I know this theme is prevalent in baseball products, which does not bother me as much given that I rarely crack baseball boxes any more, but when it makes its way in to packs of hockey cards, that is when it really starts to bug me.  And no, today’s post will not be about the Upper Deck Champ’s Entomology cards, so there’s no pun intended there.  I will save that massive question mark of a set for a later post.

The specific example of this sort of incomprehensible indiscretion by a hockey card producer that I am speaking of today is the Upper Deck generated debacle known as “The Champions”. 

This set, all on its own, is a perfect example of what can go wrong with an exclusive licence to produce a trading card product for a professional sport league.  Apparently Upper Deck felt that they could include absolutely anything they wanted to

I remember reading about their inclusion in Series 2 of the 2009-10 Upper Deck flagship brand last year and immediately wondered “why?”  This set really and truly boggles the mind if you ask me.

Dedicated to “champions” from a variety of Olympic sports, collectors lucky enough to pull one of these gems were basically able to watch their collecting dollar flush right down the drain as a card of a person they had likely never heard of (or might have in some increment of four years ago) took the place of a much more worthwhile appearance of Columbus Blue Jackets’ fourth liner in their pack of hockey cards.

Yes, I get that the Winter Olympics had just taken place in Vancouver, but why on earth would a hockey card collector care to get an insert or “case-hit” autograph of Alexe Gilles (who?), Madison Chock (again, who?!?!) or Derrick Delmore (WHO?!?!?!?!). 

Even quasi-recognizable names like Bode Miller (for American skiing fans), Ross Rebagliati (only if you are Canadian and remember his Nagano performance…and his “second hand smoke” situation), or Amanda Beard (for all you swimming collectible fans out there) are an utter waste of pack space in my view.

Having not opened any significant amount of the Series 2 version of Upper Deck last year, thankfully I have been spared the pain of ever pulling one of these disasters on cardboard.  That, however, does nothing to make this set easier for me to accept.

No matter what Upper Deck has to say to try to justify this travesty, I will always look at it with disdain.  These cards have no place in hockey card product.  I can only hope my fellow collectors were as outraged when the product was released as I am over a year later.

So that’s my rant for this second to last Wednesday in March.  Until Sunday’s Month-End Business Update, all the best in your collecting pursuits (and may you never have the misfortune of pulling one of these)!



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