Of course, this news sucks for hockey card collectors, especially those who are fans of Panini's products (like me). Over the past few years, Panini really has made an effort to put out some unique and innovative products. Just look at Dominion, with Engravatures, Tape to Tape and Had It Stamped It, or even with Prime, and cards like Prime Ties, Skates, and Laces, or their Prime Colors patch cards. Now, I also like Upper Deck, but in my opinion, their products rely more on reputation than innovation. We get those Panini products because we want to find the newest type of card, whereas Upper Deck is purchased because it's "Upper Deck" and The Cup is purchased because it's "The Cup."
Now, truth be told, I'm not trying to bury Upper Deck as a company. It's obvious, that the NHL's intention was to go exclusive, because Panini didn't really give them any particular reason to cut ties. The NHL and NHLPA simply decided to go with who they have been with longer.
Hopefully, this doesn't mean that Upper Deck sits back and takes it easy. I really hope they examine Panini's ideas and adopt some of the innovative things they were doing. Even though Panini lost this battle, there were some really cool things they were working on, and I would hate to see them lost forever.