Archive for June, 2011

In the past we’ve encouraged casual sports fans to give the NHL Playoffs a shot because quite frankly playoff hockey is like nothing else in sports. It’s fast paced with players crashing all over the ice with everything on the line. And tonight it all comes down to one game. Just 60 minutes of on-ice action to earn the opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup. We are talking “must see TV” right here whether or not you like hockey. You’ve got to watch the action and, believe me, you will not be disappointed.

Through six hard-fought contests, Vancouver and Boston have played to a stalemate. The home team has won every game so far. Vancouver has held serve with three tightly contested home wins, outscoring the Bruins by a count of 5-2 in said games. In Boston, the Bruins have done as they pleased, outscoring the Canucks to the tune of 17-3. There have been key injuries to both teams. In Game 3, the Boston Bruins lost their top line right winger Nathan Horton to a devastating hit (resulting in a major concussion) from Aaron Rome (who was suspended for the remainder of the series). In Game 6, Vancouver lost versatile winger Mason Raymond to a vertebrae compression fracture from an awkward hit from Boston’s Johnny Boychuk. The hit looked really scary, but surprisingly no penalty was called on the play and there has been no discussion of discipline over the hit.

Who steps up in Game 7? Who is under the microscope? Who stands to gain the most in the hobby? Here is a quick look at who I will be watching:

It is the biggest game of Roberto Luongo's career. Will he shine or sputter tonight?

Roberto Luongo (G) Vancouver Canucks: A multi-nominated Vezina Finalist has been very inconsistent so far this series, but has played very well at home. He has shown brilliance equally as well as incompetence so far. I expect a very good game from Luongo (he can’t be any worse then last game), but I worry about him if he happens to give up a quick one because then he might just fold for the night. Regardless, he still has an outside shot at the Conn Smythe Trophy should he put up a great game.

With a strong performance tonight, Thomas will likely take home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Tim Thomas (G) Boston Bruins: The banter back and forth between Thomas and Luongo has bordered on humorous. Between Luongo “pumping” Thomas’ tires, and Thomas not wanting to reciprocate, and Luongo talking about how Thomas let in a (I repeat “a”) soft one in Game 5 that he would have stopped, the two goalies are at the forefront coming into the last game. Chances are really good that whoever plays better will be hoisting the Cup Wednesday night. Thomas is my front runner to come home with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, win or lose. This team isn’t in the position they are in without him.

You can still find rookie cards of Kesler relatively cheap. That may not be the case if the Canucks win tonight.

Ryan Kesler (C) Vancouver Canucks: Just over a year ago, Kesler played in the gold medal game in Vancouver, his NHL city, where he calls home more than half the year. He was getting booed. Why? Well as you know, he’s American and was playing against the Canadian team. This time, he will have 18 000 people cheering for him. So far this series, he has not been overly effective on the offensive side. In this final game, however, I will say I have a feeling he will have an impact one way or another on how it ends. His rookie cards have shown life through the playoff run, and with a big game, they stand to continue to move well through the summer months.

Upper Deck Authenticated features a few signed memorabilia items of Boston's Lucic.

Milan Lucic (LW) Boston Bruins: The Vancouver hometown boy will be a wrecking ball of energy coming into Game 7. Lucic has proved over his short career that the bigger the stage, the bigger he plays. I expect him to be hitting just about everything in sight, and parking himself in the dirty areas looking for scoring chances all night long. He will present a big challenge for the Vancouver defense, Roberto Luongo. His cards stand to make a rise should he perform well in the biggest game of his life. Should be fun to watch him!

Sedin could rise to super star status with a strong performance tonight.

Daniel Sedin (LW) Vancouver Canucks: After losing Game 6 in Boston, he gave a speech reminiscent of Mark Messier in the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. Sedin has guaranteed a win tonight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy2JAOVJyRY&feature=related

The Art Ross Trophy winner has put his legacy on the line here. Very simply put, he will be a hero or a zero. They stand a much better chance if he and twin brother Henrik can finally find their cycle game and get some offense going. It sure would be a great picture for the ages if the twins can hoist the Stanley Cup. As great as they both are, their hobby love is basically regional. If the Cauncks should win, he may see a small up tick in his cards over the short term, but I expect them to stay at about current levels over the long haul.

When all is said and done, there will be no more hockey. We have the draft to look forward to next week, followed by the Awards night, and then the Rookie Showcase, but tonight is the last major hockey event for some time. Tonight another European Captain will hoist the Cup: Zdeno Chara or Henrik Sedin will be the first to lift it over their heads for their respective teams. My guess is that the winning goaltender will be next and then we will see what each team’s pecking order will be. This, for me, is one of the best things to watch. Who gets the Cup from the captain and the path that it takes going from player to player on the winning team.

Who do you think will be raising the Cup tonight? If you feel confident, Upper Deck is allowing fans to order their Stanley Cup box sets before tonight’s game. Check it out here.

Christopher Carmichael has been a hockey fan for over 20 years. He has been an active member on various hobby related sites, most notably www.hobbyinsider.net, and is a moderator on www.cloutsnchara.com.

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Players growing beards during the NHL Playoffs is has become a fun tradition for the sport. In 2011-12 O-Pee-Chee we will be paying tribute to that tradition by producing a 50-card set of current NHL players who have rocked the playoff beard look before. These will be numbered the same as the base version, but will have a different photo of the player with their playoff beard featured. Collectors can find about four of these playoff beard variation cards per box. It should be a creative way to immortalize this unique tradition through trading cards.

Scott Hartnell has a great track record of growing a grizzly beard in the NHL Playoffs. He will have a playoff beard variation card in 2011-12 NHL O-Pee-Chee.

We get into our work here at Upper Deck and as the NHL Playoffs came close to starting, more than a few of us decided we would do a pool for who could keep a playoff beard the longest. I lasted about a week before I had to take the clippers to the patchy mess on my face. It’s not easy to start and keep a beard for over a month with your work and personal life in the way. Two Upper Deck staff members were able to accomplish this achievement however, so my hat is off to them. And now we ask you the fans, who wears it better?

First up is Mark Kramer, our resident intern extraordinaire. You may remember Mark from a couple videos he wrote, directed, produced and starred in about EVOLUTION and about why you should only purchase from Certified Diamond Dealers. He is a huge help on the Marketing side of our business and we are expecting great things from this up-and-comer in the future. Check out his beard:

Mark Kramer wants to take down the title of "Best Upper Deck Playoff Beard." Do you think his beard is the best?

Up close and personal with Kramer's playoff beard...

Next up is Mark Shaunessy, our Hobby Policy Enforcement Specialist. Before taking on that position, Mark worked in our Quality Assurance Department and before that in our Game-Used Room. You may remember Mark from a brief appearance on ESPN’s E:60 when the Sports Guy Bill Simmons paid us a visit at UD Headquarters. He takes his position very seriously and he is very serious about growing his beard as well. Take a look at his beard:

Mark Shaunessy is hoping his beard can bring him the title and prize pool. With this cap, there's no doubt of Shaunessy's Irish heritage.

Shaunessy's beard is very thick, but is it thick enough? Is this the better of the two playoff beards? Let us know in the comment section below!

They have both made it to the end of the NHL Playoffs (as long as they don’t slip up between now and Game 7). Both beards appear to be very similar in terms of coloring and thickness. But our question to you fans is who wears their beard better? Kramer or Shaunessy? Give your vote below in the comment section so we can award the victor the prize pool!

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Each month Upper Deck spotlights one of its valued collectors to showcase their collection or pursuits. The great thing about sports collectors is that they are all very different in what they collect, how they collect, and what they do once they have the cards they were looking for. Kenney Der is a passionate fan of Drew Doughty from the Los Angeles Kings. What makes this interesting is that when he pulled his first Doughty card, Kenney didn’t even know who he was. I always find it interesting as to what makes someone decide to collect a certain player. Check out Kenney’s story and find out what the spark was to compile such an amazing collection of Doughty cards and collectibles.

“My name is Kenney Der and I live in Grande Prairie, Alberta, up here in Canada. Grand Prairie is about four hours north west of Edmonton to give you a better idea of where I’m at. I have been collecting cards on and off for about 10 years. I first gained interest in the sport of hockey when I was about seven years old, staying up late watching the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames hockey games with my father. I didn’t start collecting hockey cards until I was about 11 years old when my dad would take me to the local convenience stores or gas stations to pick up a couple packs of cards (if I behaved properly, of course).

Kenney Der sits with some of his favorite Drew Doughty collectibles.

“As I got older I stopped collecting sports cards entirely, but kept everything I had amassed throughout the years. I didn’t become passionate about collecting again until I stumbled onto a YouTube hockey card box break video. It made me remember how much fun opening boxes was so I purchased Upper Deck’s Black Diamond as I remembered that product well and also decided to try some higher-end product with SP Game-Used and Ultimate. From each of those three boxes I pulled a Drew Doughty insert card which I thought was pretty cool. I got the Black Diamond Quad Rookie, SP Game-Used Rookie numbered 06/99 and an Ultimate redemption for his rookie card numbered to 399.

“The funny thing is that I had no idea who he was until I did some research and discovered Drew was a top NHL draft pick. I watched some of his Guelph Storm highlights on YouTube and I was really impressed by this defenseman who plays such good offense. I thought to myself it can’t be bad to start collecting a top-drafted defenseman, so my hunt for Doughty began. I decided to start by getting one of every Doughty Upper Deck rookie card and after I completed that task, I started my hunt for every Upper Deck Doughty card numbered to two or higher.

This is just a small sampling of Der's impressive Doughty trading card collection.

“I have obtained 94.19% of every Upper Deck Drew Doughty card up to the most current product [‘10-11 SP Authentic]. I currently own 373 of a possible 396 non 1-of-1 Upper Deck cards of Doughty. The total number of cards includes cards not listed on the Upper Deck checklist such as the LA Kings team, OPC Blank Backs, OPC Box bottoms, BAP Player’s Club parallel and the Upper Deck French Series 1 set. My current collection consists of 36 Upper Deck 1-of-1 cards of Doughty (24 of them being printing plate cards). Many are sought after rookie card inserts like Drew Doughty’s Ultimate Rookie Shield and Property Of. Aside from my Upper Deck cards I own over 560 different Drew Doughty cards from combined products such as Upper Deck, Panini, ITG and Guelph Storm Issued cards. Altogether I have collected a grand combined total of 54 1-of-1 cards from the various manufacturers.

These are Kenney's top five Doughty cards. Some AMAZING cards here!

“One of the things I love about collecting a rookie is to watch him transform into a legitimate star. It has been so rewarding and fun to see Drew Doughty achieve a heightened level of stardom, especially watching his superb play with Team Canada in the Olympics. I am also grateful of having the opportunity to watch Drew live three times this year [season opener in Vancouver and two Edmonton Oilers games] and I also look forward to possibly meeting Drew in Los Angeles next year for the Tip-A-King event. I’d love to get my two game-worn jerseys signed by him.

Kenney also has a great collection of signed and game-worn jerseys of Drew Doughty.

“I’ve started a website to help show off my collection to other fans, but also to help track down cards I’m missing. Right now I’m really looking for some of his ‘08-09 UD Black Letterman autograph patch cards, in particular the U, G, T and Y cards. If you wouldn’t mind helping a fellow collector out, take a look at my collection and “Want List” for Doughty cards. Email me at kennyder@telus.net if you can help out with any of these. I’d appreciate it. In addition, thank you, Upper Deck. for giving me the opportunity to share my Drew Doughty collection with you and your fans.”

The pleasure is all ours, Kenney. It’s so amazing to see what has come from just opening three boxes. Your collection is amazing and you should be very proud of it!

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I got the chance this week to pre-sell Upper Deck’s fast-approaching 2011 Stanley Cup Champions Box Set. And I couldn’t have gotten any closer to the action unless I was playing for either the hometown Bruins or the visiting Canucks! That’s right, I was at Game 4 on Wednesday in Boston, hanging out on Concourse 4 (Loge 9/10) inside the world-famous TD Garden with my Upper Deck co-worker Kelly Woodruff.

TIM THOMAS RESIDES HERE: Boston's TD Garden was ROCKING on Wednesday night!

As a Bruins fan, I was just stoked to be there. There was an undeniable level of excitement in the air as the Bruins took to the ice just two days after mauling the Canucks 8-1. But as an Upper Deck employee, I needed to throttle back (sort of) on my own excitement as my Killer B’s continued their onslaught from Monday with one goal in the first period, two in the second, and one more in the third. As Kelly and I guarded our sales table and continued to hawk our 30-card Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Box Set, I couldn’t help but glance up at the 30-inch flat screen stationed above the “Frank House” concession stand every time the crowd roared, which pretty much meant another goal for the Bruins. Boston did win, 4-0, to knot the series at two games apiece.

PILLAR OF POWER: Here's Kelly hanging alongside Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara (sort of).

The atmosphere was “electric,” as Kelly liked to say, and the local fans were basking in the glow of Beantown goaltender Tim Thomas and his incredible 38 saves that night against the NHL’s highest-scoring team this year. On the other side of the ice, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo looked shell-shocked after the contest with just 16 saves through most of the game before getting yanked with three minutes to go.

MAGICAL ICE: This was the calm before the storm on Wednesday night.

During my 36-hour stint in Boston, I was able to take several photos, as well as pose for some, with Kelly and I taking turns with the shutter. Take a gander at some of the fun below and remember to place your order for the winner of this year’s Stanley Cup. And because Upper Deck covers all the bases, two other members of our staff covered Game 2 in Vancouver (when the Canucks won in OT) and pre-sold orders for the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup Champions Box Set as well. But here’s the catch: Only one box set will eventually be produced (of the winning team), so keep your fingers crossed that it’s your team that winds up winning! And for the record, if you place a pre-sell order and your team doesn’t win, you don’t lose a thing. Your credit card simply won’t get charged. No harm, no foul.

HOW 'BOUT A BOX SET? Here's Kelly working her sales magic on two Bruins fans.

THE PUCK STOPS HERE: Here I am leaning against the Bruins best backstop in town.

LOPSIDED: The majority of the game was played in Vancouver's end. Note Tim Thomas at the far left.

DONE DEAL: Here I am post game posing the Bruins rally monkey. He had the night off.

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With more people having access to computers, more people are getting into graphic design. For years now, passionate fans who are computer savvy have been creating their own trading card designs and even their own custom cards. Many of these fans have come up with some really compelling designs and custom cards. We think it is time these talented fans have a forum to show off their creations and we will reward them for doing so.

Create a new Upper Deck NHL custom card and post it on the Upper Deck Facebook Wall by June 15. Fans can comment on your labor of love and we will pick one fan at random to receive a full size Tyler Seguin autographed hockey stick from those fans who posted their images. The winner will be announced on Thursday, June 16. If you are not comfortable with computer design, you are free to draw your own design as well. Just take a picture or scan of it and post it to our wall. Let’s see what you’ve got! Our designers are excited to see what you come up with.

By submitting an image of a NHL Upper Deck custom card, you have the chance to take home this autographed stick from Tyler Seguin!

This is your chance to own an amazing collectible from one of the hottest rookies this season!

For more details on this promotion, click here.

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