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Nearly two weeks ago, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ontario was transformed into the site of the 2010 NHLPA® Rookie Showcase. And just like last year, Upper Deck was there to capture the best of the NHL’s finest young talent prepping to make their on-ice debuts as professionals.
The all-day event represented Upper Deck’s first chance to capture the players – 23 in all (up from 14 last year) – sporting their new NHL team uniforms in a variety of poses and scenes for upcoming card releases. Regarding star power, it was major blastoff time. The top four picks from this year’s NHL Draft were all present and accounted for: Taylor Hall (F – Edmonton Oilers); Tyler Seguin (F – Boston Bruins); Erik Gudbranson (D – Florida Panthers); and Ryan Johansen (F – Columbus Blue Jackets).
After participating in a media scrum early in the day, at which more than 40 Canadian media outlets put the players through the paces, the NHL’s newest “Young Guns” got down to business with UD at four different stations: portrait photography; on-ice action photography; video filming (where one-on-one interviews and video skits were captured); and memorabilia signings for upcoming promotions and product launches.
As an added incentive during the video filming, we dangled an autographed Steven Stamkos Curve Puck Display from Upper Deck Authenticated as a trophy to be awarded to the player who showed the most spirit. In the end, it was Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle who walked away with the prized keepsake as he was truly generous with his time, acting skills and self-deprecating antics.
The first of several funny and entertaining vignettes that Upper Deck will be releasing during the course of the 2010-11 NHL season is entitled “The Importance of Signing Autographs,” which is a vital component to award-winning hockey card sets. The skit, which features four rookies – Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello-Aasen of the Rangers; Calvin de Haan of the Islanders; and Joe Colborne of the Bruins – is a reenactment of a scene from the 1992 film “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Only this time around, it was yours truly playing the part of Alec Baldwin’s hard-driving character. Note how I put the emphasis on signing autographs as opposed to selling real estate in this take.
Additional skits performed with the NHL newbies included media training scenarios and how to handle overzealous fans. Players ranging from Seguin and Colborne, to Gudbranson and Jacob Markstrom (Panthers), to Kevin Shattenkirk (Avalanche) and Jeff Skinner (Hurricanes) all took turns in front of the camera as we put them in various scenes. It was a thrill for each of the rookies to participate, and a thrill for us to work with them.
Collectors should keep their eyes peeled for rookie cards of these NHL newcomers first appearing in Upper Deck’s 2010-11 Series One Hockey release in November, provided the player skates on Opening Night.