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As the hockey season comes upon us, so does the release of the 2009/10 sets of trading cards. Upper Deck, who owns the NHL license, will be releasing their usual handful of sets with packs and boxes ranging from the affordable (Victory, about $30 a box) to the recession-busting (The Cup, around $400-450 a box). Yes, the days of 50 cent Topps or O-Pee-Chee cards are long gone.
To kick off their '09-10 campaign, Upper Deck announced this week that they signed Washington Capitals forward and two-time Hart Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin(notes) to an exclusive autograph deal. His likeness will be on Upper Deck packages and exclusive autographs will be inserted into all sets release.
"Alexander has distinguished himself as a proven superstar in the NHL in just a few short years," said Bernd Becker, Chief Operating Officer for Upper Deck. "The sky is the limit with a player of his caliber in terms of what his legacy will be and hockey fans realize that. To be able to deliver exclusive content of this international icon is a coup for Upper Deck and something our collectors can get excited about."
If Upper Deck can add Ovechkin to their who's who list of exclusive athletes on the memorabilia side then collectors will be in for a treat. Upper Deck, who has deals with the likes of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, constantly push out some of the more innovative and gorgeous pieces in the industry. To see Ovechkin's "The Goal" against the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006 would be something special as part of Upper Deck's "filmstrip" series.
Upper Deck's memorabilia is quite pricey and if Ovechkin lends his signature to various photos and equipment, collectors are going to have to have some deep pockets if they're to add to their collections.
Ovechkin's Upper Deck cards - base, inserted, and autographed - are already fetching top dollar and going up year after year. With Ovechkin's new deal with Upper Deck, expect some better looking cards for the Capitals star than this "Top Guns" insert that will be included in their base set.