Half a century after being drafted, Vic Mercredi gets a hockey card

The NWT’s Vic Mercredi is among eight Indigenous former NHL players who now have their own hockey cards, 50 years after he was first drafted to the league.

Upper Deck announced a licensed NHL First Peoples Rookie Cards set on Friday last week. A total of 10,000 of the eight-card sets have been printed.

They will be distributed free of charge at Indigenous hockey camps, Indigenous youth tournaments and at an Indigenous-owned hobby shop, First Row Collectibles, in Winnipeg.


The eight players featured in the set are Mercredi, Ted Nolan, Jason Simon, Rocky Trottier, Dan Frawley, Danny Hodgson, Johnny Harms and William LeCaine. Harms and LeCaine are now deceased.

Mercredi became the first hockey player born and raised in the NWT to be selected in the draft. He was chosen 16th in the first round and made his NHL debut a year later.

Though he only played twice for the Flames, his career took him to Baltimore, Calgary, Sweden and Arizona. He was inducted into the NWT Sport Hall of Fame in 2013.

The idea for the hockey set was spawned a few years ago when an Upper Deck representative met with hockey card collector Naim Cardinal, a member of Tallcree First Nation in Alberta.

Cardinal had earned some recognition in the sports card industry for a large collection of rookie cards of Indigenous players who had suited up for at least one game in the NHL.


Cardinal discovered through his hobby that there were several other Indigenous players who had seen some NHL action but never had a licensed rookie card produced for them. That’s when Upper Deck offered to make a limited edition set.

“I’m honored to work with Upper Deck to help shine a spotlight on Indigenous hockey legends and be a part of bringing these cards to life,” Cardinal said. “These former players have earned their names and images on official trading cards, and it’s great to see both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people honour them as athletes in a real way.”

Representatives from the NHL, National Hockey League Players’ Association and Hockey Hall of Fame assisted with the project.

‘Someone kids can look up to’

Jacob Alexis, an artist from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Alberta, designed the cards. Cardinal worked with a board, comprised mostly of Indigenous people, who provided advice throughout the project.


Challenges encountered by Cardinal and his team included trying to find family members of players who had passed away.

“I believe the imaging was a little bit difficult to find because sometimes there were much older images of what we could use,” said Paul Nguyen, Upper Deck’s senior marketing manager.

“Trying to source those and making sure they were the proper imaging the families wanted to use, that got a little bit difficult.”

More: Read about Vic Mercredi in our recap of the NWT in 1973

But Nguyen is pleased with the final product.

“We really wanted to make sure that they were done properly and correct,” he said. “Now that we finally have them in our hands and can see them, and knowing that people will be able to see them as well, is really exciting.”

Nguyen said Indigenous youth will receive the cards for free.

“If we’re doing something really for the goodness of the community, it’s really important to have accessibility, especially when we really focused on providing them at these Indigenous hockey tournaments and camps,” he said.

“It was just important that those in the community would have these and if we were to add a cost to it, that’s just a barrier that I don’t think was necessary when we’re trying to highlight these athletes and put a spotlight on them.”

Nguyen also believes the set of cards will provide inspiration to Indigenous youth.

“Seeing someone that they can look up to from their own community, I think that just speaks volumes: saying ‘If they can do that and accomplish so much, I can see myself doing that as well.'”

Ollie Williams contributed reporting.