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What PHF hockey cards should (and shouldn’t) look like

Starting in 2022-23, Upper Deck is set to produce full sets of PHF hockey cards. That gives us the entire offseason to get our hopes up

An action shot of Sami Jo Small in full Team Canada goalie gear on a gold coloured card. There is text on the left side that reads “Going for Gold.” The card is atop a stack of many other hockey cards all contained within a metal tin.
A Sami Jo Small “Going for Gold” Upper Deck hockey card sitting on top of the author’s shamelessly disorganized hockey card collection

It’s summertime, which means it’s the offseason for hockey. We’ve all had plenty of time to look ahead to next season and wonder about what things might look like in the PHF by the time the puck drops.

As players are signing and fans are speculating about who’s going to play where in Season 8, I’ve found something a little less high stakes to daydream and speculate about:

Hockey cards.

In December of 2021, the PHF announced a multi-year deal with Upper Deck to produce full sets of PHF trading cards, beginning in the 2022-23 season. We’ve already seen some Upper Deck produced PHF trading cards with the release of special edition All-Star captain cards that were made available during the All-Star Showcase in Buffalo.

Those cards are just the beginning however and there’s a lot of potential for the partnership to produce some really cool collector’s items for hockey fans.

My offseason hockey card daydreaming has lead me to a pretty extensive list of hopes and wishes for the Upper Deck partnership going forward

All the cards, all the players

If someone signs a contract for the 2022-23 PHF season, we should be able to find their hockey card. Half the appeal of collecting men’s hockey cards for me has been opening up a pack and finding some guy who played five minutes for the Red Wings in 1969 staring back at me. It’s like holding a piece of history in your hands. It’s a small way to honour and celebrate people who might otherwise end up being unsung heroes.

Upper Deck has made women’s hockey cards before… or at least, they’ve put women on hockey cards before. This year’s Tim Hortons cards featured 15 members of Canada’s National Women’s Team and in 1997-98, several members of Team Canada were featured as part of a National Heroes sub-set. While these sets are cool (and I will treasure my Sami Jo-Small card forever), they do feed into the idea that only the most exceptional players are worthy of recognition when it comes to women’s hockey. I want to see every single player in the PHF on at least one card next season. I don’t think that’s too much to ask!

This is also the perfect opportunity to honour retired players who were instrumental in getting the league to where it is today. A throwback themed set of cards is something that a lot of fans would be interested in.

Gimme the numbers! Gimme the facts! Just gimme… something

The back of a trading card can be just as fun as the front. There’s nothing more disappointing than opening up a pack of trading cards and turning one over to find that the back is boring or worse… blank.

The absolute easiest way to do that is to throw a player’s career stats on there. Nothing too fancy, just tell me where they played, how many games, how many points, and if you’re feeling real fancy, do some quick math and put a total on there.

The possibilities are endless though, there’s so much real estate on the back of a hockey card. There’s room for a biography, a mini-interview, some fun facts, even some history.

Yes to Digital Trading cards, no to NFTs

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of controversy around the sale and production of NFTs, so when Upper Deck announced that they intended to produce “digital trading cards” as part of this deal, some eyebrows were justifiably raised.

As ubiquitous as NFTs have become though, not all digital trading cards are NFTs. Upper Deck has been selling digital trading cards for years. Users can buy, sell, and trade digital versions of Upper Deck cards online, and in some cases collect online-exclusive cards. One cool feature of Upper Deck e-Pack® is the ability to buy eligible cards online and then have them shipped to you whenever you want, with the digital version remaining online. If you have a massive collection, being able to sort through your cards without having to physically go through all of them could be pretty useful.

What definitely wouldn’t be useful is if Upper Deck and the PHF decide to release NFTs. Neither party has announced much in terms of plans, but the press release sent out by the league did note that more information would be available closer to product launch, including potential plans for NFTs.

Ideally, the plans for NFTs will come down to “we’re not doing them.” They cost a lot of time, money, and energy to produce and are pretty pointless when regular old digital trading cards work just fine.

Get a little weird

There’s no shortage of wonderfully weird stuff happening in the world of PHF hockey at any given time, and I’d love to see PHF hockey cards embrace that a little bit. There’s no reason women’s hockey can’t get as goofy as the infamous Jarome Iginla ping pong card. I can think of some pretty good post-Isobel Cup win pictures that would make for some pretty memorable hockey cards.

The point is, hockey cards don’t just have to feature pictures of players winding up to take a slapshot in front of the net. Some people take collecting more seriously than others, but at the end of the day, collecting hockey cards is just a bit of fun so it’s always nice to see that reflected sometimes.

Honestly, as long as it’s well done, I’m here for it

Too often, when a women’s sport property partners with a brand, they get a fraction of the attention that a men’s sport property would get. Upper Deck have already shown that they can put the effort in with the cards that they’ve already released. Hopefully that continues and we see high quality, fun, well researched PHF Upper Deck hockey cards for many years to come.