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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The O-Pee-Chee Legacy

I don't like to steal articles from other sites. Well at least, I don't like to steal as a general practice. But sometimes there are things out there that you just find facinating.

Over on Sports Collector's Daily, they featured an article regarding the O-Pee-Chee brand, from it's beginnings to today as a flagship product in the Upper Deck stable of cards. As most of you know, O-Pee-Chee was, for most of its existence, known as the Canadian brother of Topps. They have paralleled the Topps brand products in baseball and especially hockey for many, many years.

It is interested timing for this considering the potential demise of Upper Deck because of their licensing battles. With the NHL lockout back in 2004, both Topps and Pacific went into hibernation in the hockey card market. In the Game kept up their production but has never been issued a license in their existence and has only produced cards of legends and minor leaguers. Upper Deck was the only licensed producer to put out cards during the strike. Coming out of it at the end of the would be season, the NHL gave Upper Deck the exclusive license for their products. Topps is still around but no longer produces hockey. Pacific is gone. In the Game is the only other manufacturer left and still have no NHL license.

Upper Deck acquired the rights to revive the O-Pee-Chee name back in 2006 and has produced products under that label ever since. As a primary hockey collector, I have been a bit on edge with all this considering if UD is gone, so will the hockey cards. Thus far, most hockey products have stayed fairly solid from a production and collecting standpoint. Upper Deck has produced some of my most favorite sets over the last few years with SP, O-Pee-Chee, their flagship base sets, and Masterpiece.

Someone will undoubtedly pick up the slack and sign an agreement with the NHL and NHLPA. However, at what cost? I fear we, the hockey collecting community, are going to suffer with inferior products, poor designs, lack of variety and any other epidemic that has plagued the other 3 major sports since the era of exclusitivity was ushered in. Or it could be worse. We may lose the products all together. I hope not.

Here is a link to the article I originally mentioned before going off on a tangent.

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