Thursday, February 4, 2010

Insider Interview - ITG President Dr Brian Price

I approached In The Game President, Dr Brian Price, about an interview. He graciously accepted.
For sake of clarity, my questions and comments are in white, his answers are in green.

From a collector's standpoint, 1972 The Year In Hockey was a huge success. Please give us your perspective on it, how it came to be, the difficulties and successes of putting together a set featuring players from 37 years ago.

Over a year ago we initiated a vote amongst collectors to determine what they thought was the most important year in hockey history. Although the voting was close, 1972 narrowly edged out 1980.
1972 was not only the first year of the WHA but also the year of the Summit Series between Canada and Russia.
Based on that vote, we created the product.
The challenges were enormous. Finding the players and negotiating contracts with them was very time consuming. Finding usable images was also a challenge.
It is not easy coming up with new ideas and executing them but that’s what I enjoy the most. The collector in me always comes out.

ITG's next product release is Heroes and Prospects. This year you've included a chase redemption program unlike past years. What excites you about this? Why the change now?

In The Game is always looking to make our products more exciting and more valuable. By creating this Redemption Program, I think we have accomplished both. Collectors can collect the non-memorabilia insert set, Class of 2010 and ten lucky collectors can redeem their cards for extremely limited game-used memorabilia cards of first round draft choices.
It’s not really a change for us. We have had special programs in our products before, this particular non-memorabilia insert set gave us the opportunity to do it again. We hope collectors enjoy it.
What excites me about it is that collectors will trade these cards based on their projections for the 2010 draft. They might be right, they might be wrong, that’s the beauty of this program. Who will go first, who will go second? One never knows. One thing for the sure the cards out of ten that are available to those with the correct draft number will be valuable.

The new release of Between The Pipes is coming... Can you share anything from it yet? Anything new, or maybe exciting new additions to the checklist?

Right now the product is in the formative stages. We always try and put together the best checklist we can and this year will be no different.
We will be doing the Masked Men II insert set featuring some of the greatest goalies who have donned a goalie mask. This year we are planning to increase the size of the Masked Men checklist.
We have some new insert ideas featuring large pieces of memorabilia based on last year’s success.
If you liked last year’s product, you’ll love this year’s.

ITG is often thought of as an industry leader within the hobby with regards to Game Used and Autographed cards. Can you tell us a bit about the process in obtaining these pieces from both current players, and also the retired greats.

Securing authentic memorabilia is a 24/7/365 process. There is no store from which you can acquire authentic memorabilia, especially vintage memorabilia when you need it. So the process takes place at all time. We are known in the industry as reliable buyers of memorabilia so we are contacted often.
If we want a piece, we don’t fool around. We negotiate the price fairly and once the piece is authenticated, we buy it for the agreed price and pay for it immediately. Sellers know this and for these reasons we are often contacted first with vintage pieces.
In addition, as a collector, I often buy pieces for my collection and if ITG needs them at a later date for a project, they move across.

Where do you see In The Game in two years? Do you have plans on expanding your release calendar? More or larger sets?

That’s a great question, I am not sure I have the answer.
I know where I would like In The Game to be. I would like to have our NHLPA/NHL licenses back again. I don’t want an exclusive, as an exclusive in my opinion is not good for the hobby. Manufacturers need competition to make the best products and give the best service possible. Without competition, they become complacent and uncaring.
We have spoken to both the NHL and the NHLPA so stay tuned.

Do you or do you have someone on staff read the sportscard blogs? How do you feel they affect the hobby, if at all?

I try to read as many different forums as I can but they are discouraging. A lot of collectors don’t realize the obstacles one has in manufacturing a hockey card product. They are quick to criticize almost everything.
This last question saddened me. It made me stop and think about blogging in general. Are we that negative? I suppose so. Dr Price also specified "forums". I don't really read any forums. A little too much immaturity for my tastes. But everyone is entitled to their say.
I guess I never really thought about it like that before.
Do you think the blogs are too negative?
Anyways, as always, a big Thank You to Dr Brian Price for taking the time. I'm sure he's grateful to go through an interview and not be asked about Vezina's pads....
Do yourselves a favour, check out ITG's website, and try a pack or two of their product if you haven't already. Find out what all the fuss is about.


dogfacedgremlin said...

Well done, my friend. Excellent interview. Two things I love about this guy. I love his comment about exclusive rights to products. Even he knows that practice is bogus. It would be great if the NHL would open up their doors to some competition and In The Game has always been a quality product. The second thing, he uses stuff from his own collection in their products. Now that's a true collector, sharing with the world.

Again, great job.

TJ said...

Good interviw Cap'n. ITG is quickly becoming one of my favorite manufacturers. Brian is right though. There is a lot of negativity on the blogs and forums. Especially with recent shadiness from UD and Topps. I can see how it could be discouraging for manufacturers, but ITG doesn't really have anything to worry about. They put out a consistantly good product.

Casey said...

Great interview and read!

I've never really bought ITG stuff because they tend to use sticker autos, right? If they go on-card more, I am in. ALL IN!

Captain Canuck said...


I have no numbers to back this up, only going on the products I buy from them, but I think they use stickers about 30-40% of the time, the rest is on card.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to lie. Yeah. Blogs are negative sometimes. When they released the '72 tribute set I thought the look was quite boring and I was a little disappointed, so I blogged on it.

The problem with ITG for me,though, is I generally love their stuff and was really looking forward to that particular release. I thought the whole concept was great, but I wanted a more original design. My high expectations got in the way.

I think where Dr. Price misses the mark is that blogs are also generally very positive about things they do like. Outside of that, most of what I've seen on the '72 release has been great.

Casey said...


You think it's that high. I know the 72 stuff was on-card but isn't everything else on stickers? Heroes & Prospects, Between the Pipes, etc?

And don't they do a lot of slabbed/sealed things? Do collectors really like that?

Anonymous said...

This makes my interviews pale in comparison. Well done, sir! I -love- ITG and if given a choice, collecting whatever I collect, I would choose to open an ITG product over anything else. I've never been disappointed. Now, yeah, some blogs are negative. Forums are hit or miss (I belong to a very nice community) but, yeah, we can rag on companies... I initially started blogging again by adding news commentary and I have since pulled back from that. I think bloggers are best when they are posting about what they love, not what upsets them.

Chuck's Used Cards said...

Cappy - nice interview.

I like ITG. Doc Price's dedication to collecting and his love of the sport is admirable.

The memorabilia controversy is still a touchy subject.

But as interest in museums is lagging, there needs to be a healthy division between collecting and historic preservation.

I only wish you ask him when he would start making soccer cards ?

Collective Troll said...

Capn-Very good read... I care less about hockey cards than I do about hockey, BUT I did enjoy your interview and his responses... As far as negativity-are they affiliated with National Chicle baseball?