As many hockey card collector’s now know, the NHLPA released a statement on Wednesday stating the only rookies eligible for 2012/13 products would be those who debuted after last year’s All-Star Game through the end of the Stanley Cup Finals.
That means top rookies expected to see the ice this year won’t have a 2012/13 rookie card, something we believe will hurt the entire hockey card market. Collectors would definitely have aggressively gone after rookies from players such as Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk, two young phenoms expected to see the ice this year. Without the rookie class, many releases have been canceled.
It is understandable in looking at the shortened schedule that attempting to get autographs and crank out products in a shortened season would have been very challenging. It may have even delayed products and loaded them up with redemptions. Throughout the hockey season we frequently bring in Buffalo Sabres players to our retail stores for autograph signings. In looking through the shortened schedule we identified just three days where the players would have enough time on an off day to make the appearance, which is a small example of how challenging it would have been for the manufacturers to get everything signed.
Overall, we think the decision made by the NHLPA will soften the hockey card market. It is our hope that the strength of rookies from the last few years will boost the sale of older products and singles enough to carry into the 2013/14 season. If stores and collectors can make it into the 2013/14 season, the loaded double rookie class should be a boom. It is possible that it could have the same effect as the post-lockout double rookie class of the 2005/06 season, but many stakeholders – including us – would have rather had more 2012/13 releases with a rookie class.