Excuse the naiveté from me this morning, but was I the only one who was completely oblivious to the fact that you can buy a pack of Upper Deck hockey cards for 400 dollars per? A pack that holds five cards, no less? I know it’s been a lotta years since I used to buy them by the box, but surely inflation hasn’t done that to the price of cards.


Hockey cards.


I first found out about Upper Deck’s “The Cup” series from a Chris Botta article in today’s Sports Business Journal, which you can check out here (subscription required).

The cards, obviously, are more of an investment than they are playthings. I suspect not a lot of kids are snapping up packs and putting them in the spokes of their bikes – I also suspect the average age of the people who buy them is a little higher than 12.

The series started in 2005 after the last NHL lockout (having to explain which NHL lockout you’re referring to these days is getting embarrassing), meaning a certain young superstar was just joining the Pittsburgh Penguins and teammate Mario Lemieux.

From Botta:

Crosby’s rookie card from that first edition of The Cup, featuring the star’s autograph and a swatch of his jersey, is considered the holy grail among cards of this generation’s stars. It is valued at more than $10,000. Only 99 were produced and printed with serial numbers.

This year, it’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins getting the fancy-pants treatment of serial numbers and swatches.

Each pack contain a few “face cards,” and a few pieces of memorabilia. I did I YouTube search for a little context – I just couldn’t imagine what the cards looked like. Below is a video from 2010 (picked at random, there’s hundreds of these “box break” clips) that shows a gent opening a pack so you can wrap your head around this too.

Regardless of how it appears to those of us outside the world of card collectors, these things are selling, have sold, and will sell. They’re in huge demand.

More from Botta:

According to Dave McCarthy, NHL vice president of consumer products licensing, the league’s partnership with Upper Deck is in the third year of a four-year contract.

“It’s a unique product,” McCarthy said of The Cup. “It highlights our brightest stars, combined with rare memorabilia. It appeals to high-end collectors.”

It also appears to be a solid investment. Each pack of The Cup is presented in a tin. Uncracked cases from previous seasons — each case has six packs of cards — go for $4,000 and more on websites.

Maybe these guys and gals do know what they’re doing, but still…

Four hundred dollars.

Hockey cards.