Earlier this month, the Premier Hockey Federation announced a multi-year agreement with The Upper Deck Company to be the exclusive licensed manufacturer of physical and digital collectible cards. The first set will be released during the 2022-2023 season.
âThis is a landmark license for PHF and we are extremely thrilled for our athletes, fans and collectors of all ages,â PHF Commissioner Tyler Tummnia said in the press release.
âCollectible cards are a staple in professional sport and Upper Deck is at the forefront in this space offering the highest quality traditional cards and the most innovative digital collections. We are grateful for their commitment to PHF and the opportunity to develop the game and inspire the next generation in a whole new way.
The deal will include physical trading cards, e-Packs, and non-fungible tokens or NFTs.
Prior to moving to PHF, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Players Association negotiated a 50/50 revenue split for all incoming league deals. Former NWHLPA chief executive Anya Packer negotiated the deal on behalf of the players. Packer is now the Managing Director of Metropolitan Riveters.
I spoke with Boston Pride advocate and recently appointed PHFPA representative Mallory Souliotis about the Upper Deck deal and the PA’s position among the executive directors. Some answers have been edited for brevity.
Erica L. Ayala: What was your immediate reaction to the Upper Deck affair, mainly that e-cards and NFTs will be involved?
Mallory Souliotis: This is amazing! I’m so excited to see our league and our players on collectible cards! This is an incredible deal for our league and it will continue to grow our sport across the country. Entering the NFT market is also quite unheard of and monumental for our league and our sport as well, I don’t know too much about the NFT world but it is definitely a major step in reaching new markets as well. It really is an exciting time to be a part of PHF and women’s hockey.
ELA: What has been your interaction with sports cards and collectibles?
MRS: I certainly had collectable cards growing up and I have a few autographed and framed photos of other athletes’ homes, as well as a few signed NHL jerseys. It’s just another opportunity to connect with the fans and really opens the door to so many possibilities.
ELA: If you could choose one course of action to represent yourself for posterity, what would it be? What’s your favorite hockey pose (lol)?
MRS: Definitely from me taking a slapshot it doesn’t happen often, and it’s not always on the net but nobody can tell from the photo (lol).
ELA: We live in a NIL world in varsity sport and a lot more autonomy for athletes when it comes to their brand and market value. How did you use personal branding and marketing? What led you to this journey?
MRS: I definitely started getting into my personal branding and marketing (PWRFWD, selling my own mum Tito hats) and working with other brands (Helios hockey, 5strands, Palm skincare, TIDL sport, and more! ).
It’s a great opportunity for me personally to develop my own brand and it also brings more supporters to our team, our league and our sport! I’ve been able to network a ton, connect with a lot of really cool people, and use innovative products over the past few years.
ELA: Will players be remunerated by the PHF / Upper Deck for using their name, image and likeness? Has the PHF postponed the 50/50 revenue split negotiated by the NWHLPA?
MRS: Yes! The 50/50 revenue split will be in place along with a royalty percentage that will be paid to players as their cards are sold. Income distribution is so important, especially for all companies and brands that are really looking to support players as athletes.
ELA: You have been announced as one of the members of PHF PA. What can you tell us about the activities of the PA while awaiting the announcement of a new executive director?
MRS: The PA has been very busy finding the right fit for our new Executive Director. Anya did a fantastic job and left some big shoes to fill. As a group we want to make sure we find the right person to take on this responsibility while supporting us as PHF players. Stay tuned!
ELA: What would you like to add or underline about Upper Deck or the Players Association?
MRS: We are so happy to have Upper Deck on board to make collectible collectible cards, can’t wait to see some young girls coming out of the store to find a PHF Trading Card Pack, how awesome it is! ‘think it. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a female athlete’s collectible card, that’s how big of a deal that is. Imagine signing a collectible card that you are inscribed on, fool, it makes me cry to think about it!
There’s some big stuff coming out of PA too so stay tuned and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!