Panini Peek: 2010-11 Zenith Hockey

One of the most vexing dilemmas of 1990s sports card collecting will once again rear its controversial visage beginning this summer with the triumphant return of the fabled Zenith Hockey brand. A product that has been splendidly overhauled for a new generation, 2010-11 Zenith Hockey delivers more than just tough decisions. It also includes more than 200 Rookie Cards.

Dare to tear? Dare to tear!

One of the most vexing dilemmas of 1990s sports card collecting will once again rear its controversial visage beginning this summer with the triumphant return of the fabled Zenith Hockey brand. A product that has been splendidly overhauled for a new generation, 2010-11 Zenith Hockey delivers more than just tough decisions. It also includes more than 200 Rookie Cards.

Due out May 11, Zenith will carry a $10 pack SRP and each box should yield three autograph or memorabilia cards (at least one autograph is guaranteed), one Zenith Z-RC, four short-printed Legends one Red Hot parallel, and one card each from Gifted Grinders and Crease Is The Word (quite possibly the two greatest hockey insert names of the 21st century.

Oh, yeah: Each box also includes one Dear to Tear Box Topper, an oversized card with a hidden collectible inside from a roster that includes Epix inserts and never-before-seen National Treasures and Donruss Elite Rookie Cards.

“The key to making this work is to force collectors to make a tough decision,” says Al Muir, Panini America NHL Brand Manager. “Each Dare to Tear jumbo will feature either a true RC or one of hockey’s greatest legends and it will be fairly limited. If you tear one, you’re destroying a sure thing . . . but what you find inside might just make it worthwhile.

“Along with base cards and Epix inserts, we’re seeding in RCs you won’t find anywhere else, including National Treasures and Donruss Elite cards of Taylor Hall, Jeff Skinner and many more. We also have autographed versions of the unsigned RCs that are inserted in base packs, along with a number of other surprises.”

Other product highlights include Yours Truly 0n-card autographs from top-notch superstars such as Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos and autographed short-printed RCs numbered to just 199.

Case-breakers can expect each case to deliver one White Hot parallel, five autographed Rookie Cards, four Yours Truly autographs and at least one insert each from the Gifted Grinders, Scraps, Rookie Roll Call Materials, Epix Materials, Z-Team, Team Logo Die-Cuts inserts. 

This quick interview with Muir, a hobby legend of sorts with a keen sense of — and deep appreciation for — hockey’s collecting history, should provide additional details on one of the most exciting releases of the season.

Of all the legendary brands at your disposal, why Zenith?
“A couple of reasons, actually. First, I was a big fan of Zenith back in the old days. Like a lot of collectors, I have fond memories of the technologies, the hot RCs of Vinnie Lecavalier and Roberto Luongo and yeah, the Dare to Tear cards. It just seemed like a program that offered both a nostalgic tug as well as an opportunity to update it to make it compelling for modern hobbyists.

RCs seem to be the biggest draw of the program. What can you tell us about the staggering amount of freshman content?
“Obviously rookies have to be a compelling part of any modern program, but Zenith just developed into something else in a really organic way. We originally planned for 50 RCs, but there was a tremendous influx of first-year talent in December and January that forced us to reconsider the possibilities. We know collectors want to see these players and as quickly as possible, so Zenith provided the proverbial window of opportunity. As more rookies made their debuts, we reconfigured the product to add more and more of them.

“Eventually, we ended up with three tiers of RCs, both signed and unsigned, within the base set. Then we added more RCs as part of the Dare to Tear program, both as jumbos and as some of the elements that collectors will pursue within the jumbos. We knew we weren’t going to make National Treasures or Elite as full-on hockey programs this year, so we created mini-versions of these almost as extensions to our basketball or football programs of the same name. It’s a unique approach that’s really in keeping with the experimental nature of the original Zenith.”

So, in a way, Zenith can almost be seen as a pilot for potential future releases of National Treasures and Donruss Elite hockey?
“We’ll definitely gauge how collectors respond to these in the secondary market. If the demand is there, we could certainly spin them off into their own entities as we move forward.”

Stay tuned to The Knight’s Lance for more information on 2010-11 Zenith Hockey.


11 Replies to “Panini Peek: 2010-11 Zenith Hockey”

  1. “Gifted Grinders and Crease Is The Word (quite possibly the two greatest hockey insert names of the 21st century.”

    Are you doing a stripper insert set?

    The cards do look awesome though. Can’t wait for May when they come out.

  2. The Team Logo Die Cuts and Gifted Grinders sound like winners.

    I am anxious to see if the Z Teams return as they did during their initial release during 1995-6 with DUFEX! Those were easily some of the most aesthetically pleasing cards EVER.


    Get Kopitar in there Al. 😉

    The “Yours Truly” autographs are a brilliant idea, especially if the players sign in the correct area.

    I believe this is also an excellent opportunity for inscriptions with a set like this. Have the players sign, after the “Yours Truly” their signature and/or maybe an AKA with their nickname? Or some interesting stat?


    “Yours Truly” Sid the Kid
    “Yours Truly” Steven Stamkos, 2009-10 Rocket Richard Trophy
    “Yours Truly” Anze Kopitar “Kopi- STAR” or “Anze The Giant” or “The Sloveninan Sensation”
    “Yours Truly” Drew Doughty “The Great 8” or “Doughnuts”

    Looking forward to it all gentlemen!

  3. I’m impressed that they’re bringing back an old favorite of mine. The 97-98 series was very fun to collect as the cards were very sensitive and prone to chipping. I think it’s sweet that you decided to bring back this classic and I love the “Yours truly” auto inserts concept. However you have to have some Dufex and you have to have the masks as the die cuts instead! I’d be proud to open a box on my site!

  4. Tracy,
    Will this be the first set to feature Jacob Markstrom?
    What is the cutoff for rookies debuting this year?
    Thanks and keep up the great work.

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