Generations come together with 2015-16 Upper Deck Biography of a Season set
By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor
The parallels between Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky have been drawn by fans and media alike for quite some time, so it is only natural that Upper Deck has announced that its Authorized Internet Retailers will soon be offering a special 2015-16 Upper Deck Biography of a Season series to their customers as a bonus for buying boxes.
Scheduled to be released in two waves, the 2015-16 Upper Deck Biography of a Season set will cover McDavid’s journey to the pro ranks while Gretzky’s first NHL campaign is remembered. The first wave will consist of six cards of each player.
“This Biography of the Season program was developed in collaboration with our Authorized Internet Retailers coming out of the Industry Summit where we wanted to do something that hadn’t really been done before, by chronicling the first season of two of Upper Deck’s most prominent hockey spokesmen. We all know how memorable Gretzky’s first season was, but it will be exciting to watch what happens with Connor as he develops this season. To have these memorable seasons on a collectible card is a very cool way to bring fans closer to the game,” noted Upper Deck’s Senior Marketing & Social Media Manager, Chris Carlin.
Look for a gallery of the first 12 cards in the 2015-16 Upper Deck Biography of a Season collection after the jump.
Back on October 8, McDavid made his NHL debut against the St. Louis Blues and he followed it up five days later with his first career point, a goal scored on Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars. As an interesting coincidence, both McDavid and Gretzky scored their first NHL goals in their third games as Gretzky accomplished the feat as he put the puck past Glen Hanlon of the Vancouver Canucks on October 14, 1979.
Longtime fans will recall that Gretzky made his professional debut as a 17-year-old with the World Hockey Association’s Indianapolis Racers back in 1978-79. Just eight games into the season, the cash-strapped team traded him to the Edmonton Oilers, who were looking to become part of the NHL through an upcoming merger. With 110 points that year, Gretzky was named that league’s Rookie of the Year and helped take the Oilers to the AVCO Cup Final. While Edmonton lost to the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA’s final game, the Oilers were able to protect his rights as they transitioned over to the NHL.
The 1979-80 edition of the Edmonton Oilers was a rag-tag group that had some promising young prospects but they struggled throughout their first NHL season. Gretzky combined with Blair MacDonald and Stan Weir to give them some offensive spark and the future Great One slowly rose in the scoring race with each passing game. He also appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game and played against his childhood hero, Gordie Howe. The addition of goalie Ron Low helped them into the playoffs, but they lost to the powerful Philadelphia Flyers in three straight games.
Since Gretzky had some pro experience, he was declared ineligible for the Calder Trophy. Undaunted, he tied for the most points in the league with 137, but Marcel Dionne won the Art Ross Trophy due to the fact that he had scored more goals. As consolation, Gretzky did end up winning both the Lady Byng Trophy and Hart Trophy. Many of these events are sure to be covered in the 2015-16 Upper Deck Biography of a Season collection as the current campaign progresses.
Stephen Laroche is the editor of Beckett Hockey, Beckett Basketball, and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Laroche.