Way back in 1978, the NHL allowed teams to start selling advertising space along the boards of their rinks. By the time I was a hockey card–collecting kid in the late 1980s, the trend had caught on. From snack foods to car manufacturers to banks to fast food restaurants, board advertisements really ran the gamut—and they still do.
This series will explore some of the advertisements that also managed to make their way onto hockey cards.
Here's Bobby Holik, coasting along the ice, seemingly oblivious to the Los Angeles Kings player behind him who's trying to slow him down with a hook of the stick.
If you're a card collector, however, one thing you're not oblivious to is the logo on the boards just to the right of Mr. Holik.
And this is interesting. Mr. Holik's card featured here is from the inaugural release of hockey cards from that very same brand, Upper Deck, in 1990-91. It was also Holik's very first season in the NHL. This means the picture on the card had to be taken that very same year, at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. And this means the folks at the Great Western Forum were pretty forward thinking when it came to their board advertisements.
But it makes sense. 1990-91 was a watershed season for hockey cards. Along with the standard Topps and O-Pee-Chee offerings, suddenly collectors had many more brands to choose from: Bowman, Score, O-Pee-Chee Premier, and Pro Set all swooped in on the market. And with the outrageous popularity of Upper Deck's inaugural baseball card set from the previous year, it's no wonder the Great Western Forum chose Upper Deck as the card company for their hockey rink boards.
And here's something to keep in mind: We're talking about a time that existed before digital photography and instant photo submission across the internet. Holik's card is in the high number series, which was released a bit later in the 1990-91 season. But still, kudos to Upper Deck for getting their photographers out there mid-season to snap and develop shots of a few rookies (or as they'd call them, "young guns") like Holik, Fedorov, Bondra, and Bure. The effort also meant they'd be able to feature quite a few players who'd been traded in the off-season, or even mid-season, on their new teams, instead of printing the standard "now with [insert team here]" text on the card fronts like Topps and O-Pee-Chee would always do.
And thanks in part to all that forward thinking, the Upper Deck brand still exists today—the only brand of all those mentioned above that still produces hockey cards. (The O-Pee-Chee name still exists, but it's owned by... guess who... Upper Deck.)
I'm sure some of you readers and hockey card collectors remember the frenzy of the card market back in 1990, when every brand was the hottest, or best, or most advanced. Fun times, for sure.
Do you remember seeing any advertisements for the new hockey card companies back then, be it at hockey rinks, in Beckett magazines, on billboards, or anywhere else?
Share some memories in the comment section, and thanks for reading.
Can't say I recall any hockey card advertisements back then ... I do remember hockey and hockey card collecting being huge in early '90s. Eric Lindros and the expansion Sharks and Senators, etc. It coincided with me covering hockey and getting to really know the game for the first time. Seemed like the sport was everywhere.ReplyDelete
Oh right, expansion! That definitely helped bring attention to the hobby, too. Must have been a fun time to cover the sport.Delete
I don't remember seeing card advertisements at games, but remember seeing them in magazines. I also worked at a card shop so I got to experience the whole promo card era. That Holik is cool. It would be even cooler if there's a hockey card out there with a competitor's logo in the background.ReplyDelete
Oh man, like a Pro Set card with an Upper Deck logo in the background? I'll start searching for something like that, hahah.Delete
I can only imagine working at a card shop during that era!
That's a great catch. I don't remember any card advertisements. Should have been more.ReplyDelete
I remember card advertisements in Beckett Magazines, but you're right -- I don't remember seeing them in many other places back then.Delete
I think a lot of younger folks would refer to this as being "meta". And don't ask me what that means, because I'm still not entirely sure myself :)ReplyDelete
Heheh, I'm with you on that one, Jon.Delete
I have a lot of fond memories of those 1990-91 hockey sets. My dad and I opened a card store in Canada that year and those were the hottest things we had. The UD set is a really beautiful one, probably one of the best hockey sets produced up to that year and everyone wanted packs of them. Score was also popular because of the Eric Lindros, but other than that it was a pretty boring set. OPC kind of went from king of hockey to a distant third that year. Pro Set was.....pretty bad. We didn't sell Topps because why would we? Anyway, when I look at 90-91 UD hockey cards it always reminds me of Canadians with mullets wearing clothing that was considered stylish by the standards of hockey fans who lived in small town Ontario in 1990 (ie clothing that the rest of the world would have considered stylish in about 1977). Good times.ReplyDelete
Hah! Sounds like good times for sure, Sean. Thanks very much for sharing those memories.Delete