Columbus fans flock to NHL Draft show

The National Hockey League held its annual draft last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and this year’s event again featured a collectibles show as part of the festivities.

The NHL Collectibles show opened on June 22 prior to the start of the draft. Upper Deck offered a six-card draft set as part of a wrapper redemption program. The set included Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Boston’s Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal and Columbus Blue Jacket favorites Rick Nash, Gilbert Brule and Nikolai Zherdev.

The attendance on the first day was the best in recent memory. “We had 12,000 here on Friday,” said a happy Dave McCarthy, director/entertainment products for the NHL.

The league’s new draft format featured first-round selections on Friday night and the rest of the draft taking place the following day. Dealers who wondered what kind of turnout there would be on a beautiful summer day were put to rest when the doors opened Saturday morning. The crowd filed in once again and the sales were brisk.

“Sales were great. It was a great weekend,” said Jeff Morris, publisher of Canadian Sports: The Magazine. “There was a huge lineup for the Stanley Cup, which was prominently displayed for fans to get their photo with as well.”

Upper Deck sold exclusive Alexander Ovechkin All-Star Vinyl figures at $100 and sold all 250 that were available. The company also hosted an area where fans could pose for their own card. The NHL hosted free autograph sessions with a mix of current and retired players and several of the top prospects in the draft. The Card Corner Internet radio show was broadcasting live from the event and offering a variety of free prizes to fans.

Next year’s draft and collectibles show will take place in Ottawa.
– Russ Cohen

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