The MLB, NFL and NBA trading card space is in upheaval but the NHL license isn’t going anywhere.
The National Hockey League and the NHLPA announced a long-term extension of their exclusive deals with The Upper Deck Company. The agreement also includes NFTs.
“Upper Deck continues to be a staple for hockey enthusiasts with proven track-record of offering a broad range of trading cards and other collectible offerings that appeal to and engage new and existing fans and collectors of all ages, stated Brian Jennings, NHL Chief Branding Officer and Senior Executive Vice President. “As a market leader at the forefront of innovation in the space, we look forward to working alongside Upper Deck and the NHLPA to continue to push the bounds of the best-in-class collecting experience, and to provide NHL fans with the most dynamic and robust offerings from the high-quality physical trading cards to the expansion of the e-Pack platform and the introduction of NFT trading cards, as well as the myriad of other related offerings that modern hobbyists seek.”
Fanatics recently partnered with the MLB, NFL and NBA players and leagues to essentially take over those card markets once current deals with Topps and Panini America expire. No announcement was made on a deal with the NHL or its players when that news leaked out, leaving open the possibility that hockey card production would stay with Upper Deck.
There was no word on financial details of the extension. The deal is believed to run a minimum of five years.
“We always hope that we can renew partnerships. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we always start at the heart of the matter, which is: How is the relationship? Is it healthy? Is it vibrant? Are they being innovative? Are they being creative? Do they understand the evolving market? And we felt good about it,” Jennings told Sportico.
“Throughout our relationship, Upper Deck has demonstrated its strong commitment to NHL players and their fans. They have continued to deliver exceptional products over the last 19 months despite the difficulties brought about by the pandemic, said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “We look forward to continuing to build on our partnership and offer the highest quality traditional cards, as well as innovative digital collecting opportunities.”
Upper Deck has held hockey card licenses since the 1990-91 season, producing a variety of products for the U.S. and Canadian markets.
“Upper Deck’s focus has always been on creating the best experience possible for collectors,” said Jason Masherah, President of Upper Deck. “With our proven track record and omni-channel strategy, we are able to empower the end-consumer to engage with the hobby through whatever way they prefer, whether trading card shops, mass retailers, direct to consumer, or online. For now, and into the future.”
In conjunction with the announcement, Upper Deck unveiled the latest extension of its e-Pack program with a new patent-pending NFT platform, Evolution, which will launch this winter. Upper Deck’s says an “expanded online ecosystem will include a vibrant secondary market.”