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NHL Licensing: The End of Exclusives Part Two

Beckett’s Blog has posted an interesting coda to the news that Panini has received an NHL/NHLPA license to produce hockey cards.  Any existing exclusive autograph deals with manufacturers are null and void heading into the 2010-2011 hockey card season.  The big guys with exclusive Upper Deck autograph deals are Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.  This likely only applies for active NHLers who are governed by the NHLPA, so retired players such as Bobby Orr, Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky would presumably still be UD exclusives.

This is great news for the player collector who worried they might be tied into a single manufacturer even with the market opening up.  Each manufacturer will be able to issue base cards and inserts of any player in the league.  This also removes the possibility of a rookie being exclusive to either manufacturer.

The news from the NHL seems to also take a bit of a jab at In The Game, with the following statement:

“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.”

This would seem to be sound advice, as the sticker label could presumably be applied to any product after the fact,  and be the source of considerable embarrassment for the player and the league.  I have also seen a few TTM collectors who are aiming to get stickers signed (which I think is a terrible idea, BTW).  No news on how this will impact active players who have been willing to sign for ITG in the past.

I also hope this note about sticker labels isn’t indicating a move away from hard signed cards.  Hockey already enjoys a bit of an edge over other sports when it comes to hard signed product, and I’d hate to lose that.

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