The moment a young hockey prospect hears their name called at the NHL® Draft is one they will remember for all their lives. What happens however after making their way to the stage is a flurry of action that most hockey fans do not know anything about, commonly called “The Gauntlet.” And for the first time ever, we are going to take you behind the scenes at this exciting series of events at the annual draft!

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Hearing your name announced is just the beginning at the NHL Draft…

Handler

Right when the new draft pick is ushered off stage, they are assigned a handler who will help them run “The Gauntlet,” making sure they hit every stop they have to along the way.

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This happy handler drew the #1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Aaron Ekblad.

Media

After they have a handler, they are taken right to masses of media eager to interview them. There are over a hundred reporters eager for a story from these premier prospects. After being asked every question under the sun, they move on to the next round of “The Gauntlet.” Media are positioned in a variety of places throughout the arena and depending on the team and draft pick, sometimes the media will follow along with the player throughout the entire process.

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This is just one of the many media areas behind the scenes at the annual NHL Draft.

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Many players have media that follow them along throughout “The Gauntlet.”

Photo Shoots

Then it is time to strike a pose and show those pearly whites. The handlers deliver the draft pick to photo shoot areas back stage for NHL Images and Getty Images. These are the first images of these youngsters wearing the jersey of their new team that will be used for magazines, online stories, posters and more!

Upper Deck

The draft picks are then ushered off to the Upper Deck area where they will complete a variety of tasks in a relatively short amount of time.

  • Draft Board – The first thing these young rookies will do is sign Upper Deck’s living draft board that we update throughout the day. This year we were honored to have NHL® Commissioner Gary Bettman add his autograph to the draft board. We will have the board on display at company headquarters after the draft.
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Leon Draisaitl adds his autograph to UD’s Draft Board.

  • Promotional Signatures – Draft picks will sign a small amount of promotional items like oversize tickets, pucks and hats that are used for promotional purposes for events like National Hockey Card Day, trade shows and in-store events.
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William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs adds his autograph to a special blow-up NHL Draft Ticket UD will use for promotions in the future.

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Aaron Ekblad signs promotional hats and pucks for UD after the 2014 NHL Draft.

  • Education – We don’t have much time with the rookies, but while we do we like to show them some of the recent cards we have created and hammer home how important they are to helping us deliver the best collectibles to fans by signing on time, having a good quality signature and being mindful about the condition of the cards when handling them.
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After NHL Draft Picks sign a few promotional signatures, we also have the opportunity to talk about the cards and have several different types on display to show them.

  • Photo Shoot & Draft Jerseys – The young players then try on Upper Deck’s jerseys and hats that will be used for future draft day memorabilia cards while also doing a photo shoot. As we explain how these jerseys will be cut up and used on trading cards, some rookies joke, “Well I better try to get some sweat on it to make it special!” We have the rookies strike a variety of poses that will be used for both trading cards and promotional marketing materials.
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Draft picks are coached through a variety of positions that could be used on new hockey trading cards.

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We had a special moment as both of “The Sams” came through the UD area at the same time and posed for a picture together. Collectors will definitely be after cards of Sam Bennnett and Sam Reinhart in the future.

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Sometimes there are little interruptions in the process, like when Travis Sanheim had to pause to take a congratulatory call from team president, Paul Holmgren.

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Alex Tuch wanted to make sure fans got a jersey that felt worn so he added some stubble to the mix with a smile.

  • Video Shoot – Lastly the draft picks are asked a few questions that will be used for Upper Deck draft videos. We have some fun with some of these and you can expect to see some of these first videos in the coming weeks!
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Right after the photo shoot, rookies are asked a couple questions for an upcoming UD Draft video.

Prospects Lounge

If at any time while the draft picks are running “The Gauntlet,” there is a backlog or they just need a spot to chill out, they can go to the Prospects Lounge. With comfortable couches, live streaming of the draft and refreshments, the Prospects Lounge is the perfect place to regroup.

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When running “The Gauntlet” gets too stressful, prospects have a special area to chill out.

Family Area

Once the process is complete the handler delivers the draft pick to the private Family Area where they are reunited with their loved ones and the party really begins!

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Once they have ran “The Gauntlet,” prospects are reunited with their family in a private area.

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Backstage at the Family Area of the Draft is very busy.

The Upper Deck Booth

Right outside the Family Area is Upper Deck’s corporate booth where we run a variety of promotions throughout the weekend. Fans can score a special wrapper redemption set, get personalized trading cards made, get free autographs from players or even play some bubble hockey. And after running “The Gauntlet,” sometimes these young stars will drop by after visiting with their family to get their very first NHL® trading card made or to play a little bubble hockey!

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First Round Pick Haydn Fleury watches as his nephews play bubble hockey at the Upper Deck booth!

It’s a special day. It’s a special moment in time for these players. And Upper Deck is there to capture it and deliver it to NHL® fans around the world through trading cards! The next generation of “Young Guns” are coming soon!

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John Demchuk is a lifelong Philadelphia Flyers fan and also loyal Upper Deck collector. As a season ticket holder he was going to a Flyers game one night and he was stopped by a guy who works with the team who had interesting information for him. The gentleman said, “John, you’re on an Upper Deck card. I saw this card and said, ‘Wait, I know this guy!’” When John saw the card he was blown away.

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Next to the last night of the year, the Flyers have a night where the players give their game-worn jerseys to random fans right off their back after the game. John was thrilled to be selected and even more excited to have Scott Hartnell be the player he would receive a jersey from. Never in a million years though did he think an image of him would make it onto an Upper Deck card since he’s been collecting since the 1970’s.

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John proudly shows off the 2013-14 NHL Upper Deck Series One card #39 showing him getting Scott Hartnell’s jersey.

I met John at the NHL Draft recently and he shared how excited he was about being featured on the card. We are going to get him a giant blow-up version of the card to commemorate this awesome moment. And even though Harntell was traded, he remains a fan favorite in Philly and has a special place in John Demchuk’s heart.

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It’s Throwback Thursday so let’s go back through Upper Deck’s trading card history and come up with a fun giveaway. The first round of the 2014 NHL® Draft™ begins tomorrow and reality is setting in for top prospects like Michael Del Colle, Leon Draisaitl and Samuel Bennett. These guys are hoping for the outcome that Sidney Crosby received in 2005 when we was chosen as the overall No.1 pick to the Pittsburg Penguins. So let’s put up a throwback card and see if our fans can come up with some great captions for the card! Please share your comical caption to this card for your opportunity to score the below 6-card set from the 2013 NHL® Draft and 5 packs of 2013-13 NHL® SP Authentic! Upper-Deck-Throwback-Thursday-Sidney-Crosby

Score this 6-card set from the 2013 NHL® Draft and more!

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Important Promotion Guidelines:

 

  1. You can only submit one comment per email address so think about it before you post.
  2. Comments are moderated so keep them clean and in good taste as we have a lot of youngsters on these pages. Comments deemed inappropriate will not be posted or eligible to score card set(s).
  3. Make sure to review other caption before you post. If you have the same comment as someone else or make slight improvements to it, the credit will go to the first person who posted the comment.
  4. You have until Friday morning, June 27 at 8:00 a.m. PT to post your caption before this promotion is closed.
  5. Upper Deck will review the captions posted and select one (1) fan who most skillfully share a comical comment to coincide with this card.
  6. Only the customer selected to receive the card set will be contacted via email, so please make sure to provide an accurate email address when you leave your comment.
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When someone talks about the sacrifices members of the United States military make, often they are just referring to that individual who is serving. What many people do not fully realize is that the real sacrifice is not just on the member risking life and limb when placed in harm’s way, but their entire family who has to work through having that loved one gone for long stretches and not being able to put their arms around them to get to share how much they love them. This is one of the reasons why charities like Defending the Blue Line are so great and why Upper Deck has made it a point to support them.

Sports are a great way for youngsters to stay healthy, but at the end of the day what they really provide is a distraction. One segment of the population that could use a distraction are kids whose parents are away serving on behalf of this nation. And that is what Defending the Blue Line really helps out with by making sure military children who want to play hockey can do so.

Each year Upper Deck gets the opportunity to make a young hockey fans dreams come true by working directly with a NHL® team at the Draft serving as a draft runner. Ultimately these kids end up having the time of their lives by feeling like a part of the team and meeting a variety of NHL icons. When that opportunity came up this year, Upper Deck decided to look to Defending the Blue Line and find a youngster from a military family to serve as our draft runner. And when Christian Placiente heard he would be Upper Deck’s draft runner for this year, he was ecstatic.

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Raymond Placiente is a Lieutenant Colonel with the United States Marine Corp and said, “Once he heard the news, Christian started reading up on all the potential prospects and has been so excited about potentially meeting some of his favorite NHL players. Our family is so excited for him.”

Christian is a dedicated young hockey player. He has worked very hard to hang with the best in his age range and when he isn’t on the ice, he is practicing his skating and stick handling on inline skates. Christian has tried other sports, but hockey is really his passion.

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As with most military families, frequent moves are just a part of life. Recently Lieutenant Colonel Placiente was transferred to the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina. The nearest hockey program for Christian to take part in is an hour and a half away, but they make the drive twice a week just so he can play.

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This weekend, Christian will travel a little longer than an hour and a half, but it will be well worth it. Having the opportunity to not only attend the NHL Draft™, but to be on the actual draft floor and get a behind the scenes look at how it all works will be a memory that he will treasure for a lifetime. Who knows, if Christian continues to work hard, maybe he will get to go back to the NHL Draft™ one day, but next time as a player!

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Serious collectors love hard-signed autograph cards that the athlete has actually touched and handled, but getting those completed and back in house in time for the product pack out is not always easy. This is especially true when the product is a hand-painted set that requires approvals from the athletes depicted. Therefore it is a major achievement for Upper Deck to release 2014 Goodwin Champions with zero autograph redemptions in the product and multiple versions of hard-signed autograph cards from some of the biggest names in sports. There will be many first time signers to the product as well to keep the autograph line-up fresh, take a look at some of those names:

Michael Jordan
Tiger Woods
Wayne Gretzky
Ken Griffey
Lebron James
Joe Montana
Lindsey Vonn
Peyton Manning
Sydney Leroux
Rory McIlroy
Mark McGwire
Canelo Alverez
Eric Dickerson
Graeme McDowell
LaDainian Tomlinson
Karl Malone
Jerry Rice

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Additionally we will be bringing a premium memorabilia series to 2014 Goodwin Champions as well which should have collectors pretty fired up. Take a look at some of these preview images!

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