The National Hockey League is back in action this weekend, but new rookies won’t be featured in hockey card packs for another six or seven months.
The National Hockey League Players’ Association and its two licensed hockey card manufacturers have agreed to hold back new 2013 rookies until the 2013-14 hockey card sets are released in the summer. This means collectors can’t collect the new wave of 2012-13 debutants until the Panini America and Upper Deck Company 2013-14 card sets come out in July, August and later.
Over the past decade, the NHLPA and its licensed card manufacturers have traditionally picked a rookie “cut-off” date in late January or early February. The cut-off date ensures a somewhat even distribution of rookie cards from one season to the next. It also allows card companies to maximize a late rookie crop into a full season of card products (instead of just one or two sets at the end of the year).
When Cody Hodgson made his NHL debut on Feb. 1, 2011, he was ‘cut-off’ from inclusion in any year-end 2010-11 sets (which would have translated into a four- or five-month rookie card window). Instead, he was saved for all 2012-13 sets over the course of a full collecting season. Likewise when Chris Kreider made his NHL debut on Apr. 16, 2012 in the NHL playoffs (more than two months after the cut-off date), he was saved for the 2013-14 collecting season.
The message was delivered by Adam Larry, the NHLPA’s Director, Licensing & Associate Counsel, on Wednesday Jan. 16, just three days before the start of the new season.
“Over the past few months, the NHLPA has been assessing the impact that a lockout shortened season would have on our trading card business, as well as how specifically (it would impact) the rookie card class of 2012-13. After discussions both internally and externally, including with many stakeholders within the trading card industry, we have decided to restrict the rookie class for the 2012-13 product to those players who debuted between the 2012 All-Star Game and the conclusion of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. This means that all rookies who debut during the 2012-13 season will have their rookie cards appear in 2013-14 products.
“The NHLPA encourages collectors to check Panini’s and Upper Deck’s official blogs for more details on their respective upcoming 2012-13 releases. We look forward to continuing our relationship with both Panini and Upper Deck to bring the best hockey players in the world to life through the dynamic and expanding trading card market.”
It should be noted that the NHLPA licensing rookie cut-off date only applies to the hockey card market, not other NHL-NHLPA licensed products. As such, new January rookies can be featured in other licensed memorabilia like shirts, posters and photos.