NHL (video game series)
The current NHL series logo
|Genres||Sports (ice hockey)|
|Platform of origin||Mega Drive/Genesis|
|First release||NHL Hockey
|Latest release||NHL 16
September 15, 2015
NHL is a series of professional ice hockey simulation video games developed by EA Canada and published yearly by Electronic Arts under the EA Sports brand. The game is developed under license from the National Hockey League (NHL), which enables the use of the league's team names, stadiums and colors in the game, and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), which enables the use of the League's player names and likenesses.
- ^† as NHL Hockey
- ^‡ Joe Thornton was originally chosen, but EA switched to Dany Heatley after Thornton was accused of assaulting two police officers. Thornton's cover was never produced. After the 2003–04 season had begun, Heatley was involved in a car crash that killed teammate Dan Snyder, prompting EA to switch covers to one featuring Joe Sakic.
- ^‡ ‡ Patrick Kane was originally slated to share the cover with teammate Jonathan Toews, however, following sexual assault claims made against Kane, he was dropped from the cover.
- ^EU in Europe; ^DEN in Denmark; ^FIN in Finland; ^RUS in Russia; ^SWE in Sweden; ^SUI in Switzerland; ^CZE in Czech Republic
As is traditional with EA Sports, the NHL series boxes feature live action photos instead of drawings. As it lacked the NHLPA license, the early titles staged photos without real players. NHLPA Hockey 93, on the other hand, had the rights to use player images, but not of the teams. On this cover, the main action photo features the New York Rangers' Randy Moller checking the Philadelphia Flyers' Rod Brind'Amour while Rangers goaltender Mike Richter makes a save (in this photo there is the logo of the New York Rangers located on the bottom right of the goaltender's pants). This photo is surrounded by eight small portraits of players (Steve Yzerman, Andy Moog, Pat LaFontaine, Brian Leetch, Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, Jeremy Roenick, and Rick Tocchet). This changed with NHL 94, which featured a goal situation for Tomas Sandstrom (LA Kings) against Andy Moog (Boston). NHL 95 featured an in-goal camera during a goal scored by Alexei Kovalev of the New York Rangers during the '94 Stanley Cup Finals against Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks. NHL 96 featured New Jersey's Scott Stevens and Detroit's Steve Yzerman. More recently, Claude Giroux was featured on the cover of NHL 13 and Martin Brodeur was on the cover of NHL 14. On June 24, 2014, EA Sports announced at the 2014 NHL Awards in Las Vegas that Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins would be the official cover athlete for NHL 15. In 2015, during the NHL awards, it was announced that the cover of NHL 16 would feature Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane carrying the Stanley Cup together. However, on August 12, 2015, EA announced that Kane would not be appearing on the cover or participating in any promotional activities for the game in light of a criminal investigation he was involved in. Instead, the cover will feature Toews alone.
In NHLPA '93 and NHL '94, Emmy award-winning  sportscaster Ron Barr gives a pre-game scouting report prior to each game. In the Genesis version of NHL 95, KNBR radio sportscaster John Shrader replaced Ron Barr in that duty. Live play-by-play commentary was introduced in NHL 97. Jim Hughson, currently play-by-play man for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and also one of Canada's best-known hockey announcers, provided the play-by-play for much of the series. The last games in which he is one of the announcers are the PC and PS2 versions of NHL 09. Bill Clement was the sole commentator in the Nintendo 64 version of NHL 99. Gary Thorne provided the play-by-play commentary in all Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions from NHL 07 through NHL 14. With NHL 15 being the first game to be released on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, NBC Sports commentator Mike "Doc" Emrick will provide the play-by-play commentary on all platforms. NHL 15 will also be the first game to introduce an ice level analyst, with TSN analyst Ray Ferraro appearing in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions. Color commentary has been provided by Daryl Reaugh (1998–99), Bill Clement (2000–01, and 2006–14 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), Don Taylor (2002–03), Craig Simpson (2004–09), and Ed "Eddie" Olczyk (2014–present).
"NHL '99" was the first game in the series to feature fully licensed music from David Bowie. Since then, each game has had soundtracks of licensed music known as EA Sports Trax, with selections of punk, alternative, and rock music, electronic music was later added to the mix in later games. NHL 15 and NHL 16 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One use an original orchestral score instead for the menus.
NHL series in popular culture
The removal of fights in "NHL Hockey 94" was addressed in the 1996 movie Swingers:
Trent: "I wish they still had fights in this game, so I could bitch slap Wayne."
Mike: "What! They don't have fighting anymore?"
Trent: "Doesn't that suck?"
Mike: "Why'd they get rid of the fighting? It was the best part of the old version."
Sue: "I think kids were hittin' each other or somethin', man."
Trent: "Yeah, but you know what, Mike? You can make their heads bleed in this one."
Mike: "Make somebody's head bleed... "
Sue: "No man, we're in the playoffs."
Trent: "I'm gonna make Wayne Gretzky's head bleed for super-fan #99 over here."
However, this is not completely accurate, as bleeding players were also removed. They also were playing "NHLPA Hockey '93", which had blood and fighting; but the fighting was strategic and players like Gretzky would rarely, if at all, have fought. This was due to his low fighter and aggressiveness ratings; while higher profile enforcers such as Tie Domi, Bob Probert, Basil McRae and Tony Twist had very high ratings of each, making each more likely to be called for penalties including fighting, others such as Gretzky had low ratings of both, making the latter not only less likely to fight, but also less likely to take any penalties at all. However, in the original "NHL Hockey", Gretzky was able to fight more often.
Kevin Smith's 1995 movie Mallrats featured Jason Lee as Brodie Bruce playing NHL All-Star Hockey for the Sega Saturn (in the DVD commentary, Kevin Smith admitted to loving the NHL series but having to use Sega's game for sponsor reasons). However, the sound effects used were from EA Sports' NHL series.
[Game audience cheering]
Rene: "What the hell are you doing?"
Brodie: "Finishing my game..."
Rene: "No, no, no! You promised me breakfast."
Brodie: "Breakfast? Breakfast, schmrekfest. Look at the score. I'm only in the middle of the second, and I'm winning 12 to 2. Breakfasts come and go, Rene. Now, Hartford—the whale—hey, they only beat Vancouver once... maybe twice in a lifetime."
- Rocky Bonanno. NHL.com. Kane lands on EA SPORTS NHL 10 cover; 2009-06-22 [Retrieved 2010-06-28].
- Erin Brown. CBS Sports. EA's NHL series: cursed or not?; 2009-08-11 [Retrieved 2010-06-28].
- NHL 10 cover athlete: Nicklas Bäckström [Retrieved 2010-06-29].
- Dion Phaneuf named worldwide cover athlete of EA's NHL 09 [press release]. Redwood City: Electronic Arts Inc.; 2008-06-09 [cited 2010-06-15].
- Samit Sarkar. Watch the NHL 10 international cover athletes do their thing; 2009-07-13 [Retrieved 2010-06-14].
- EA Sports. Stanley Cup Champion Jonathan Toews the New Face of EA SPORTS NHL 11 [press release]. 21 June 2010 [cited 21 June 2010].
- Jonas Elfving. Game reactor. Swedish. Sedin-bröderna på NHL 11-omslag [Needs translation]; 2010-06-23 [Retrieved 2010-06-23].
- The Swiss And The Swedes Get Their Own NHL 11. 24 June 2010 [cited 24 June 2010].
- / Jonas Hiller en couverture de NHL 12. 27 June 2011 [cited 27 June 2011].
- Här är omslagen till NHL 14 EA Sports Club Edition - SHL.se (Swedish)
- «El Nino» est prêt à faire chauffer les glaces de NHL. 22 July 2014 [cited 23 July 2014].
- Spelarna som pryder specialomslagen av EA SPORTS NHL 15 (Swedish)
- Mike Cole. NESN. EA Sports Pulls Patrick Kane From ‘NHL 16’ Cover Amid Reported Rape Investigation; 2015-08-12 [Retrieved 2015-08-15].
- Gold-Smith, Josh (August 12, 2015). "Blackhawks' Patrick Kane removed from 'NHL 16' cover amid investigation". The Score. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- "Sports Byline USA with Ron Barr". Sports Byline USA. Retrieved January 2, 2016.