Winnipeg shop solitary dealer of the new First Peoples Rookie card game

Winnipeg shop solitary dealer of the new First Peoples Rookie card game

A new set of trading cards featuring indigenous NHLers will be available only at indigenous hockey camps and at one brick-and-mortar store: indigenous-owned First Row Collectibles in Winnipeg.

The First Peoples Rookie Card series from trading card giant Upper Deck is a line of eight trading cards featuring indigenous former NHL players who have never before appeared on a licensed trading card.

Because it’s the only store in the world where the games are distributed, Curtis Howson of First Row Collectibles said the response has been overwhelming, including from the family of former Atlanta Flames forward Victor Mercredi, one of eight players featured.

“I spoke to Victor Mercredi’s niece today. She called me from Yellowknife,” he said.

“She was telling me about her uncle and how happy he is to have a card of himself. I guess he had pictures he would sign of himself, but he never had any real cards. Now he has these cards to sign for his family.” “

For former player, head coach and Jack Adams Award winner Ted Nolan, his first NHL hockey card comes a little later than expected, but the former Buffalo Sabers head coach said he’s honored.

“It’s like celebrating your 18th birthday all over again, 40 years later,” said Nolan, a member of the Garden River First Nation in Ontario.

“I can finally show proof that I did, in fact, play in the league.”

Nolan is the patriarch of an NHL family. Sons Brandon and Jordan played in the NHL, with the latter winning a Stanley Cup twice as a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.

“The big excitement is having a rookie card along with my kids — my son Brandon, who played with the Carolina Hurricanes and my son Jordan, who obviously played with the Los Angeles Kings, both have their rookie cards, now it’s time to add mine,” he said.

Former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan wears a Los Angeles Kings jersey owned by his son Jordan, who won two Stanley Cups with the franchise. Ted Nolan is one of eight former indigenous NHL players to receive a rookie card in the Upper Deck’s First Peoples rookie card set. (Sandra Nolan)

Nolan’s work through hockey continues to this day, running the 3 Nolans Hockey School with his sons. His hockey camps are one of the other places the sets will be available.

The other six players are:

  • Jason Simon (Phoenix Coyotes, now Arizona Coyotes and New York Islanders).
  • Dan Frawley and William LeCaine (Pittsburgh Penguins).
  • Johnny Harms (Chicago).
  • Danny Hodgson (Toronto Maple Leafs).
  • Rocky Trottier (New Jersey Devils).

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation graphic artist Jacob Alexis designed the set. He said that he is honored to give the players and their communities the recognition they deserve.

“I am very happy for them. It was a great honor and I hope I have done them justice,” he said.

‘I wanted them to be honest’

Naim Cardinal, a member of the Tallcree First Nation who lives in Kelowna, BC, wrote the player’s stats and biographies on the back of each card.

A few years ago, he was contacted by Upper Deck after mentioning on a Facebook live stream how so many indigenous players never made it to the cards.

Two and a half years later the cards are released.

Naim Cardinal, a collector who helped inspire this unique set of Upper Deck newbie cards, wrote each card’s bio and stats. (Melanie Cardinal)

“Someone told me the other day that these players now have hockey cards because of all this work that’s been done,” he said.

“I’m really grateful for that, that people can see that now and acknowledge it. I wanted them to be honest and do the best job they could.”

There is no word on a second set of rookie cards from the First Peoples, but Ted Nolan said that this type of representation is the key to success for the First Peoples.

“Seeing players that looked like me opened the door for three men from the Garden River First Nation to play in the NHL,” he said.

“By recognizing me, we are recognizing our people.”

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