Panini Peek: 2010-11 Contenders Hockey

January 14, 2011

In this history-making season of hockey firsts for Panini America, perhaps no other product on the release calendar has received as much pre-release anticipation as 2010-11 Contenders.

It’s a product with a proud, universally embraced lineage in the other sports that most hockey collectors hoped — with crossed fingers —  would make its way to the ice. In late March, it will.

“Hockey collectors tend to be pretty narrowly focused on our own stuff — most of us collect hockey and nothing else — but every now and then, we’ll run across a chase set or a brand from another sport that makes us wonder what it would be like to see something similar in hockey,” says Al Muir, Panini America’s Hockey Brand Manager. “I always felt that way about Contenders. I mean, it’s an instantly identifiable brand — nothing else looks quite like it — and I think that will make it compelling to hockey collectors who are looking for something unique to pursue. Add that to the brand’s legacy of value thanks to the Rookie Tickets subset and it was the most obvious choice from Panini’s stable of brands to make the transition to hockey.”

To say the least, the product will begin with a bang, delivering four autographs per box, including at least three on-card Rookie Ticket autographs, the brand’s calling cards. Each box also will yield nine additional insert cards from a truly unique roster that includes the likes of Leather Larceny, The Great Outdoors, Against the Glass, Draft Tandems, Lottery Winners, Rookie of the Year Contenders and more.

Some of the inserts are worth a closer look:

  • Leather Larceny captures the game’s top puck-stoppers flashing the glove on leather stock (#’d to 1,000 with autographed versions #’d to 50).
  • Against the Glass acetate cards put collectors in the front row for the most bone-crunching action in sports.
  • The Great Outdoors will warm up collections with the best photography from one of the NHL’s signature events, the Winter Classic (#’d to 1,000 with autographed versions #’d to 50).
  • NHL Ink provides a pair of signatures from some of hockey’s hottest names.
  • Lottery Winners delivers the most coveted prospects in the sport selected over the last five years. 

But arguably the most riveting and appealing inclusion of the entire product is the Golden Ticket insert, a revolutionary development in the trading card industry — 1/1 trading cards made with 11 grams of real gold. (Stay tuned for more details on these.)

“Contenders as a brand has a lot going for it, but there’s no way hockey collectors would accept a pre-fab release that was lifted directly from a previous football or basketball program,” Muir says. “This will be recognizable as a Contenders release, but our team knew it had to feel like a hockey set, so we came up with some great concepts. The Great Outdoors is certainly one of them. So is Against The Glass, a chase set that really makes the most of acetate, and Leather Larceny. These are all elements that really couldn’t be done for the other sports, and that’s what made them so vital for a hockey’s first Contenders.”

Stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance for the latest updates on 2010-11 Contenders Hockey.