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Panini fires a shot over ITG’s bow?

I linked to Dr. Price’s blog yesterday in general.  Today, I’d like to point you at a specific post.

Basically, Panini has been soliciting autograph contracts from prospects and young players and including a clause that would not allow these players to sign for another company, unless they are NHLPA licensed.

Pretty much a direct shot at ITG.  Although, from the information at hand, it is not entirely clear where this clause originated.  To me, the fact that it says “NHLPA licensed” rather than “NHL / NHLPA licensed” might mean it comes from the PA, rather than Panini.  The NHLPA has to be concerned about losing revenue in a battle with an unlicensed manufacturer.  Indeed, if the PA is charging for licenses, it is in their best interest for unlicensed companies to be unsuccessful, and including this language in contracts might be just the way to go about it.

As of right now, there is a lot of unknowns.  If Panini included this language themselves, it is certainly interesting, and it clearly shows who they think they can make inroads against, while still staying within the NHL and NHLPA’s mandate against exclusive contracts.  If it is a case of the NHLPA mandating or encouraging the inclusion of such a statement, it shows that they are becoming more and more interested in protecting the interests of their licensed manufacturers.

Update: I found this posted on Beckett’s Blog from when the deal with Panini was announced, strongly hinting that the NHL and PA were looking to shut out unlicensed manufacturers:

The letter also addresses signing stickers for companies other than the two official NHL card licensees:

“As always, unless you are receiving small signature labels directly from Panini, Upper Deck, or the NHLPA, we strongly advise that players not sign labels for other autograph dealers as there is no way to control where labels will end up once a player has signed them.”

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