There is frost on the ground, the leaves have changed color on the trees, and the NHL season is about to begin.
All of that adds up to one thing. The annual Tim Hortons Upper Deck NHL hockey card program is back for another year.
Timmy’s dropped the puck on the 2022-23 promotion Mon., Oct. 3. Guests can get a pack of three cards for $1 with a purchase of any qualifying beverage, or for $1.99 without a beverage. The cards are once again exclusive to Canada, although plenty of them eventually make their way across the border.
First launched in the 2015-16 season, the Tim Hortons hockey card promotion is the largest of its kind in the sports card world. Not only are millions of packs sold to hockey fans, collectors, families and young players, but the national radio and television campaigns that accompany the program give hockey card collecting mainstream exposure from coast to coast.
“Hockey is a key part of the Tim Hortons DNA and we’re thrilled to be getting fans excited for the start of another NHL season with our Tims NHL Trading Cards,” said Hope Bagozzi, Chief Marketing Officer at Tim Hortons.
This Year’s Set
This year’s Tim Horton Upper Deck set is a premium-level card set heavy on holographic foil and micro-etching. The set is slightly smaller than in years past, with the base set shrinking from 125 to 120 cards.
The base set cards on micro-etched foil feature a wow factor, especially for young or new collectors. The design is consistent with last year’s design, but it is different enough to differentiate the sets.
Player selection is star-based, with some young stars added.
Upper Deck also kept the theme of numbering the set to match the numbers of the star players. Tim Horton, the late NHL star who founded the coffee chain in the 1960s while a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is once again card #1. After that, players are matched up with their jersey numbers where possible. Alex Ovechkin is card #8. Artemi Panarin is card #10. Sidney Crosby is #87. Connor McDavid is #97, etc. The checklist is at the bottom of this story.
Card backs have also stirred some people up in the hobby. Stats on the back are from the 2020-21 NHL season.
Because of the sheer size of the production run with several million packs produced, the extra levels of approvals acquired for a third party promotion, supply chain issues in the paper and printing industries, and ongoing shipping challenges, production of the set had to begin before the end of the 2011-22 season. Add in the fact that the 2021-22 season had a late start and late finish, it was physically impossible to have 2021-22 stats on the cards.
In that case, however, the purists are saying that stats should have been scrapped in favor of player biographies or something a little more creative.
In the big picture, however, those are discussion points among collectors and not enough to turn any excited collector off of this set. In fact, given the extreme rise in cost of paper and shipping combined with the current low value of the Canadian dollar, the fact that Upper Deck and Tims were able to keep the price point at $1 CDN with a drink purchase or $1.99 CDN without is something that the companies should probably be applauded for.
The packout is similar to the last few years. A three-card pack will contain two base set cards and one parallel or insert.
Insert sets include Spectrum Standouts (1:9 packs), Hockey Triumphs (1:8 packs), Gold Etchings (1:8 packs), Superstar Showcase (1:6 packs), InMotion Phenoms (1:12 packs), and Flow of Time (1:24 packs), which show players morphing from their rookie season into a present-day action shot. Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Carey Price and Patrice Bergeron are among the 18 stars with Flow of Time cards, which are 3-D cards printed on lenticular card stock.
Collectors have the chance to find one of 87 signed Sidney Crosby cards, one of 100 Nathan MacKinnon signed cards, and one of 100 signed Dawson Mercer cards featuring him as a Timbits Hockey player.
Once again, Tim Hortons has produced a special binder collectors can buy to hold their cards.
Collect To Win is back with prizes that include a VIP experience to watch an NHL game and meet Sidney Crosby, plus an EA Sports NHL 2023 Xbox prize package.
Back by popular demand are Hockey Card Trade Nights at select Tims restaurants on Nov. 2 and Nov. 9. A signed and framed Sidney Crosby poster and other prizes are available to win at the events.
Growth of Program
Last season, the Tim Hortons Upper Deck hockey card promotion played an important role in fueling the hobby while Upper Deck Series 1 was delayed for two months.
At the Sport Card and Memorabilia Expo in Toronto, the world’s largest hockey collectibles show, the Tim’s set drove sales on the floor.
“There were a couple of factors at play,” said show promoter Steve Menzie after the show. “Usually, Upper Deck releases Series 1 Hockey at the show. But with series 1 delayed and with no new product, there was a lot of buzz over the Tim Hortons set. Before the show, dealers were busy putting sets together and organizing singles.”
Another factor is that the Canadian border is now fully open, 31 months after the initial closure due to COVID-19.
“Collectors and dealers in cities like Buffalo, Detroit and Seattle that are close to the border did not have easy access to the Tims cards,” Menzie said. “A lot of smaller dealers and collectors were loading up on the Tims sets to take to the smaller shows in the U.S.”
The Tim Hortons Upper Deck hockey cards will be available while supplies last. You can see what’s available on eBay here.