Archive for June, 2010
While hockey’s annual amateur draft is all business for the NHL suits tasked with filling out their organizational depth charts, the fun of the experience is best reflected in two groups of people: the young men who have come to (hopefully) see their lifelong dreams fulfilled, and the fans who make the pilgrimage to witness the big moment for the next generation of hockey’s stars.
It’s a safe bet that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin have bright futures ahead of them very shortly, as do many of the other first-round picks, but there will also be several less heralded players from later rounds who will emerge from the margins to establish themselves as solid NHL players. That’s why many youngsters taken even in the sixth and seventh rounds were in attendance Saturday to put on a jersey, shake some hands, have their pictures taken and meet with the media. It happens every year, and that is why from Hall at No. 1 to Zach Trotman at the 210th (and last) pick, the draft every year is all about what might be.
It’s the same reason why scores of Edmonton Oilers fans made the trip to Los Angeles this past weekend to witness the first NHL Draft ever held on the West Coast of the United States — to see their team select what they hope will be the franchise’s next superstar.
I spent plenty of time on the weekend at Upper Deck’s booth on the Staples Center concourse, handling wrapper redemptions that the company was doing exclusively for this event and schmoozing with fellow hockey fans and card vendors. And I also spent a lot of time behind the scenes helping Upper Deck photographers as they took pictures of the recent draftees.
The redemption booth was busiest on Friday during the first round, then again when Kings captain Dustin Brown stopped by to sign autographs on Saturday. While the majority of folks who turned out all weekend were Kings fans from the area, there were plenty of people who came from more far-flung locales. One such group had come all the way from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia (Sidney Crosby’s hometown) — a “billet” family who had made the 3,600-mile trip to support the young man who’d lived with them for the last several years, and in the process become part of the family, on his big day. Steve, the billet father of young Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault, who was taken with the 102nd pick by Columbus, wore a wide grin as he described the experience of the trip as akin to being “a kid in a candy store.”
And that was a scene repeated over and over again. Working down at our photo station, a co-worker pointed out how cool it was that every kid walking through the door sporting a new NHL jersey was doing so only moments after their dream of a lifetime had been realized. Because some of these kids will go on to be stars, many will make a lot of money playing a game they love, and still some will never play a shift in the NHL. But one day they will all be able to tell their grand-kids they were an NHL draft pick once upon a time.
When 12-year-old Zeke Estrada of Anaheim won Upper Deck’s 2010 NHL Entry Draft Runner contest earlier this month, he was asked to provide his top three choices regarding which NHL team he’d like to help out on Draft Day. In preference order, his answers were: New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks.
Well, not everything turned out as planned for Zeke as he was instead recruited to assist the New York Rangers with their Draft-Day proceedings. But in the end, he didn’t mind one bit. As his father George Estrada put it: “Zeke had the time of his life!” Check out the pics below showing Zeke in action at L.A.’s Staples Center during last weekend’s NHL Entry Draft, courtesy of Upper Deck.
Besides being a part of NHL history, Zeke managed to score a few autographs along the way while the Rangers picked up another enthusiastic supporter. Nice job, Zeke!
Also, the Orange County Register did a story on Zeke’s experience as well, check it out!
When you think of Upper Deck, the first two athletes that normally pop into your head are usually Ken Griffey Jr. and Michael Jordan. We are blessed to have relationships with some of the greatest athletes in sports, but those two have been with us since the beginning. And Upper Deck continues to bring you their authentic collectibles through innovative new products that no other manufacturer can bring to the table.
This week we conducted a signing with Jordan to get some trading cards signed, but also some compelling new memorabilia items for sale exclusively through Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA). MJ lent his legendary signature to a variety of unique items like shoes and game-used floor pieces during the session. Before this signing, he had only signed the 6”-x-6” floor pieces (shown below) which are limited to 123 and sell for $1,599.99.
There is a new item we are bringing to the market next week for “His Airness” called the Curve™ Display that we are very excited about. It features a custom-cut 3”-x-10” piece of the United Center Floor upon which MJ played during his career with Chicago and where he provided the Bulls’ faithful with some very memorable performances.
The game-used floor pieces are all guaranteed to be red, from a more premium piece of the floor. What’s more, 25% of the edition will be two colors and 5% of the edition will be three colors to enhance the collectible nature of these prized items. And they were all signed by Michael Jordan this week under the watchful eyes of UDA staffers.
The signed floor pieces will then be housed inside the clear Curve™ Display from UDA with an image of MJ doing what he does best: soaring to the basket. More limited than previous signed floor offerings, this edition will only have 100 copies available, but it will be significantly less expensive at just $999.99. These highly sought-after pieces of history will be available on the Upper Deck Store next week.
This morning I found myself jumping, screaming, shaking and hugging a bunch of dudes. Today I felt pure elation.
Everyone has already heard about the absolutely terrible call against the United States Soccer Team in their World Cup game against Slovenia. The ref called off the game-winning goal of what would have been America’s greatest comeback. The team never got an explanation, and had to face their next opponent in a do-or-die situation. Our boys delivered in a way no one could have imagined.
The “Yanks,” as they are known around the world, have given up more early goals than any other team in recent history. In the sixth minute of their final group match against Algeria the curse nearly continued. Fortunately for Tim Howard, the American goalkeeper, the crossbar saved the day. One bullet dodged and still more than 80 minutes to play. After that eye-opening moment we never looked back.
Through the entire game the U.S. kept attacking. In the 24th minute Clint Dempsey had a beautiful right-footed goal off a volley, but yet again the ref put down his gauntlet and called Dempsey offside. Arguments can be made about whether or not the call was legitimate, but the resolve of the team was too strong to let it bother them. They kept going. Shot after shot. Near miss after near miss. Surely there had to be a breakthrough.
As the game started to wind down I became more depressed. I was going to have to wait another four years to watch my team battle. This time was worse because the refs had killed us in not one, but two games. I thought for sure there wouldn’t be any stoppage time because the flow of the game had been pretty continuous, but then the fourth official indicated there would be four more minutes. I was shocked and saw only a slight sliver of hope.
In the 91st minute the camera cut away from the U.S. net to show an Algerian player. The camera returned to action just in time to see the ball hit grass and Landon Donovan run on it like a mad man. With perfect skill he threaded the ball to Jozy Altidore who gave a perfect pass in the box to Dempsey. From only six yards out he took the shot, and again, like so many times before, the keeper made the save. This time though the ball just bounced off his gloves, and fortunately for us, Donovan hadn’t stopped running after his pass. He showed up just in time to put the ball left of the goalie and into the net. GOAL!
This is the part where I jumped out of my chair, screamed wildly, felt tingles throughout my whole body and hugged a bunch of guys. I couldn’t believe it. We won!
This was one of the most historic wins for our country. The United States had never won the third game of group play in the World Cup. They had never scored in extra time. They had never finished top in their group. Today was the day history was made for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team.
After the game Donovan went to the podium for his press conference and cried. On Sunday the Yanks take on Ghana, the same team that kicked them out of the first round four years ago. Redemption time? Yeah, I’d say so.
If you haven’t seen the highlights from the game, turn up your volume and click on the link below. In soccer you have to believe. After this…why wouldn’t you?
Each month Upper Deck spotlights one of our valued collectors in order that they can showcase their prized collection. The great thing about sports collectors is that they are all so very different in what they collect, how they collect and what they do once they have them. They all share a passion that is seldom found in any other group.
Most people think collecting sports cards is a hobby reserved just for men. However there are more female collectors out there than you might imagine. Some folks got into collecting as a couple, while others got into it with their fathers when they were younger, and some simply got into it because they are just very passionate about sports. Such is the case with Karine Hains, our Collector of the Month from London, England. I had the privilege of meeting her last summer at the National Sports Collectors Convention and I was very impressed with her knowledge of the industry and this hobby we all enjoy so much. We’ll turn it over to Karine to talk a little bit about her collection.
“My name is Karine Hains and I live in London, England. I was born in Québec, but moved here in 2002 and had to adapt to a whole new culture. However, I just couldn’t cope without Hockey and since I couldn’t watch any on the television back then (as it simply wasn’t aired), I decided to rekindle my love of the sport by collecting.
“Growing up, I was a goaltender and it only seemed fair to focus my collection on my idol: Patrick Roy. Since 2005, I’ve been collecting everything I could find of Patrick Roy from cards, jerseys, mini-masks and a variety of other oddball items. Anything I can find I am more than happy to add to the collection. My card collection is now nearing 800 different cards and includes base, inserts, game-used and autographs from all years and brands. I know I am far from having a complete collection, but considering the shipping costs and customs duties I face with each purchase, this is proving to be a marathon rather than a sprint.
“Last August, I attended the 30th National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio and I really felt like a kid in a candy store. It was pure heaven to see so many cards everywhere (even though Cleveland wasn’t a hockey market)! I also bought a few sealed boxes of cards while I was there and pulled an autographed Sidney Crosby painting card numbered to just 87 copies which I of course traded for some amazing Roy pieces for my personal collection. (BE THE FIRST TO REDEEM THIS CARD AND IT IS YOURS! 08/09 SPA SOTT Triple Giguerre/Nabokov/Turco # to 25 – RRSQYDPD4)
“When I went back home for Christmas in December 2009, I decided to take my Roy jerseys and try to get him to autograph them both. To do so, I attended a Québec Ramparts’ game and as luck would have it, after waiting until past midnight, I finally saw Patrick come out of the restricted area of the Colisée. It was worth the wait as he not only was willing to sign both of my jerseys but he also posed for a photo.
“I hope you enjoyed seeing some pictures of my favorite cards, my autographed mini-mask and jerseys as well as a picture of me with Patrick Roy.”
It’s always thrilling to meet your idols, but especially so when they turn out to be nice enough to give you an autograph and picture. Thanks for sharing Karine!
If you are looking to trade out some of your Patrick Roy items to one of his biggest fans, check in with Karine at firstname.lastname@example.org.