Friday, June 3, 2011

What is a rookie card?

I used to think I knew the answer to this question. It seemed so easy. In my first life as a collector, I felt that a RC was the first release of a player's card in a set that was available nationally/internationally. Some companies got a little aggressive with this idea and released cards of players in their junior uniforms and cards of international hockey events but collectors accepted these as true rc's and life was good. Companies like Seventh Inning Sketch and Classic were ignored and their cards were off the Rookie Card table in my books. I don't know why they were ignored, I imagine the Beckett Hockey Card Monthly had something to do with that.

Since I have resumed collecting, my opinions on rookie cards has changed. Maybe not changed so much as I think I have evolved. I question why does the Beckett determine what are rookie cards? I know it isn't fair for ITG to claim all the rookies by undercutting the NHL licensed manufacturer by releasing Junior and AHL players before they lace up in the NHL, but I think a balance can be reached.

Here is a rookie by Beckett definitions of Mattias Tedenby.
Picked it off eBay for $2.99 and Teddy is going to be a star for the Devils in the next year or two.

Here is the ITG release.
What I am suggesting, is why can't this also be a rookie card? It says so on the card after all! In fairness, they were both released in the same year and he is wearing an AHL jersey (which is professional hockey). Both are available Nationally/Internationally. In fact, you needed a redemption to pull the Artifacts version meanwhile, the ITG version could be found in packs of Heroes and Prospects.

To add to the confusion, sometimes UD released two rookies of the same player in the same set. For example, Steve Mason rookies can be found in UD Victory and Victory Update. However, in 2001 Ilya Kovalchuk had a Young Gun RC released in UD Series 1 and then in Series 2 had a regular base card released and the Beckett classifies the YG as a rookie card but ignores the Series 2 card entirely. This inconsistency is frustrating for me personally because how could it be true in one case and not another?

I believe each collector needs to decide their own definition of a rookie card and collect accordingly. Dr. Price blogged about rookies in their ITG Decades release. I will not for a second consider a 2011 release containing a "new" Patrick Roy rookie. I still plan on buying this product and am excited for it. But not because there will be any rookies in the box.

My own personal belief on rookie cards is:

Any card that is made featuring a player during their first season in the NHL
The card must be released Nationally/Internationally
The card can be a redemption

I am also willing to consider:
Parallels and Inserts as rookies on an individual basis.

I have this card as part of my collection. This is an insert from 05-06 which is Vanek's rookie year with this card being from the UD Ice set.

I consider this a rookie card. Would I sell it as a rookie card or trade with someone under those pretenses? NO. But for my own personal collection, I consider it a rookie and as far as trading with one another unless I know your own beliefs, I will stick to what the Beckett tells me.

Does this mean I am going to go back and consider cards like 1992-93 UD Brodeur Star Rookie as being a rookie card? No, but I do plan on using my definition of a rookie card for releases since the card companies stopped sniping junior players before they made it to the pros. With that being said, what is your definition of a rookie card? Does ITG have rookies in their products, or do Panini and UD just have that right?


  1. I'm glad you brought this up because this has also been in my mind for awhile.

    I agree with your personal assessment of a RC but if a player is 16 years old and playing in the WHL and he's featured in a set as a rookie when he has not yet been signed by an NHL/AHL team I find that a stretch. But when a player has been drafted/signed into an NHL team but plays for their farm team in the AHL and has a rookie card released that's a different story entirely. Until that player plays one single game in the season for his NHL team, you slap his name on a card and he's a rookie.

    Sometimes you have players that are called up for 1 game a season and the next year 4 and so even though they've played in 2 NHL seasons they've only played 5 games. My question is at what number of games/seasons do you stop calling him a rookie?

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