By Susan Lulgjuraj | Editor
Leaf Trading Cards and In The Game Trading Cards have formed a partnership, the companies announced on Saturday at an event at the Sportcard & Memorabilia Expo.
New products will come out with the two companies working together, adding elements from each to make new products.
“This is just what the hobby needs,” said Leaf CEO Brian Gray in a telephone interview. “One license is not enough. Me and Brian (Price) both feel it’s right to work together and take on what we think is an unfair monopoly for collectors.”
Gray says that In The Game provides great content while Leaf will have a hand in new designs and adding elements from his brand that collectors have enjoyed. Leaf will also handle distribution and solicitation for all the products under the new partnership.
“This gives us an opportunity to create creative products,” Gray said. “The two of us together realize there is an incredible value in working together.”
While the two outlets will be working together, ITG will retain its name on hockey products.
The first product under the new partnership will be a 2014 hockey draft prospects release that comes out in June. ITG worked on the autograph acquisitions while Leaf took care of the base and memorabilia cards (with ITG inventory).
“It’s going to look a little bit of the same as last year, but with a little bit of a Leaf look to it,” ITG’s President Dr. Brian Price said. “We’re making it in the mold that we did last year and they are throwing in their ingenuity and creativity.”
Leaf and ITG have worked together before with Leaf purchasing Famous Fabrics and the rights to Sportkings from In The Game. Through those deals, the two sides realized they had a good working relationship. But through those conversations, they also had learned they had similar ideas toward the industry, Price said.
This partnership came at a good time for Price as he considered his place in the hobby with the NHL and NHLPA giving Upper Deck an exclusive trading card license. In The Game produced hockey cards since 1998 beginning with the Be A Player set, but lost its NHLPA in 2005.
ITG has created hockey cards since without a license.
“It was getting more and more difficult to fight the kind of fight we had to with all the things we were faced with,” Price said. “When the last exclusive was announced, I thought ‘Do I really want to be in this business?’ I do. I enjoy making hockey cards and interacting with hockey collectors.”
This partnership allows Leaf to enter the hockey market. It also gives ITG a stronger footing in the United States market where it did not have a strong distribution network unlike it has in Canada.
“It’s still going to be Leaf. It’s still going to be In The Game,” Price said. “The products that are made together will be the best of both.”
Leaf and ITG will work out specific details of the partnership in the coming weeks.