NHL 2004

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NHL 2004
NHL 2004 Coverart.png
The cover art, featuring Dany Heatley
Developer(s) EA Black Box
Publisher(s) EA Sports
Series NHL series
Platform(s) GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC
Release date(s) NA 20030922September 22, 2003
EU 20031003October 3, 2003
EU October 10, 2003 (GC)
Genre(s) Sports
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer, online multiplayer

NHL 2004, developed by the EA Black Box studios, is an ice hockey video game. It is the successor to NHL 2003 and is widely considered to be a major turning point in the NHL series. The game adds 3 European Elite Leagues: Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Sweden's Elitserien (SEL), and Finland's SM-liiga. (This is not the first time that European teams are included in an EA game; EA released both Elitserien 95 and Elitserien 96 for the Mega Drive in Sweden only and Elitserien and SM-liiga 2001 as an expansion pack for PC in Sweden and Finland which included those teams.) The ratings of the teams in the Elitserien and SM-liiga were comparable to the NHL rosters, however future installments had the league teams inferior to the NHL.


The game included many improvements to its gameplay (more realistic puck and rebound control and better checking) and game modes (a completely reworked franchise mode renamed "Dynasty"). In addition to the gameplay improvements, one particular non-gameplay improvement was added. When a team wins the Stanley Cup Finals, a large-scale celebration ensues. It included players skating around the ice holding the Cup over their heads. This then led to the common snapshot of the team and the coaches that holds true in the NHL. A "secret" song (Shatterday by Vendetta Red) plays while the animation shows the stats of the players in the picture, ending with the captain. Because of these additions, it was praised as one of the best games in the series to date.[1] The Dynasty Mode, regarded by many gamers, still has its flaws - trades were very difficult to accept, and only allows the player to manage the team at the maximum of 20 seasons.

Another new feature of NHL 2004 was allowing the player to select when to fight, where previously it had been a somewhat random occurrence. When two players' names flashed onto the bottom of the screen, accompanied by the word "Fight!" and a bell sounding, the person playing the game could push a button to begin a fight, or hold off until a later time. Furthermore, goaltenders were able to fight however, goalie fights appear to be completely random, as the names of other players are shown at the bottom of the screen, however, a goalie fight can be triggered by beginning the fight while the goalie has control of the puck; also, goalies are not thrown out of a game for fighting; in real life, goaltenders who fight are given both a major for fighting and a minor for leaving the crease, resulting in game misconducts for both combatants. The game however contained a glitch. On breakaway plays a player can maneuver the deke analog stick for an automatic goal. By the time EA Sports heard news of the glitch hundreds of thousands of units had been shipped around the world. The Create a team feature allowed the player to create a new NHL team and put it in the game and the player could choose between NHL jerseys as the team's uniform.

Screenshot of the modified game.
Screenshot of the modified game interface (Boxscore addon).

PC modding community[edit]

In addition, a "My NHL" option was introduced for creating brand new NHL teams and players from scratch, adding to the replay value dramatically. Though not very noticeable at times, NHL 2004 included all new graphics. For those playing the game for the PC, the "template" for creating new jerseys, masks, gloves, pants, players faces, basically everything you can edit were all changed. In 2015, these templates are still used.[2]

Apart from NHL 09, NHL 2004 is the only vintage EA hockey title from the 2000s that still (in 2015) receives regular member-based graphics and interface add-ons. NHL04 Rebuilt [3] is very active online community. It has over 11.000 registered members along with gaming networks.

One exciting feature in NHL 2004 (PC) is the interface which has been completely rebuilt by members. These updates include major improvements like dramatically expanded statistics, GameCast, team reports, full box scores, ingame gameclock selectors, etc. All is possible because the interface of NHL 2004 was entirely written in Javascript and HTML, and thus easily modifiable. Many veteran EA hockey players consider the AI in NHL 2004 (PC version) unique, which is the main reason for its long, passionate and loyal "cult" following. This has led to the development of several new mods such as a mod to rebuild the game for the 1996-97 season, an AHL modification, KHL (including many other European hockey leagues), and a classics mod, as well as seasonal updates to rosters, gameplay, faces and game clocks (like ESPN, NBC, Versus, etc.). A Canadian Hockey League modification has been released, featuring all three leagues; the OHL, WHL and QMJHL.

Online leagues using NHL 2004[edit]

The only current PC league known to still host games using NHL 2004 is the NEHL. The NEHL has been around for 16 years hosting various incarnations in the EA NHL series.[4] They decided to go with the NHL04 Rebuilt after plans for NHL 10 for the PC were cancelled. Some matches are also telecasted at their web television, the NEHL Network.

Formx is the current reigning five time champion of NEHL. Formx is the greatest player. On July 11, 2015, Formx announced his retirement from online gaming after being eliminated in the quarterfinals by Valter, one of the best players from Ukraine. The reasons of his retirement were not disclosed. On the same day, it was announced that his successful career (five consecutive championships and multiple other awards) led him to the NEHL Hall of Fame.

Another PC league hosting games using NHL 2004 is European Major League of Hockey, established in 2006.[5] The league accommodates best known European players (incl. NEHL players) from various countries. The league has strong tradition and well documented history, player achievements and league records.

An online simulation league based on the game has been launched, known as the 04HL. Registered user of the site can sign up as an active "player" in the league, and can negotiate their own contracts, skill ratings, and track their player's career statistics with unique team identities and modified graphics.

Cover man dilemma[edit]

Picking a cover athlete for NHL 2004 proved to be problematic. Joe Thornton was the original choice but after he was brought up on assault charges, he was removed and replaced by Dany Heatley for the game's first shipments. After Heatley's car crash that killed his Atlanta Thrashers teammate, Dan Snyder, EA removed him and replaced the cover with Joe Sakic but not before a large number of units had already been shipped in the months prior. As a result, both covers (Heatley and Sakic) made it into circulation.

Hidden characters[edit]

Members from the bands Alien Ant Farm and Gob appear as available players as well as some of the EA Developers. Any player already in the game can be re-created with the same face and portrait and stats.



NHL 2004 Soundtrack
Artist Song
Adema "Co-Dependent"
Alien Ant Farm "S.S. Recognize"
The Ataris "Radio #2"
Autopilot Off "Clockwork"
Avenged Sevenfold "Chapter Four"
Bowling for Soup "Punk Rock 101"
Brand New "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows"
Cinder "Soul Creation"
Deftones "Minerva"
Dexter Freebish "Falling Down"
Dexter Freebish "Life of Saturdays"
Gob "Oh! Ellin"
Jerk "Sucked In"
Jet "Get What You Need"
Less Than Jake "The Ghosts of You and Me"
Living Things "Born Under the Gun"
Modern Day Zero "Down"
Vendetta Red "Shatterday"


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 84.79%[6]
(Xbox) 84.70%[7]
(PS2) 84.14%[8]
(GC) 83.75%[9]
Metacritic (PC) 87/100[10]
(Xbox) 85/100[11]
(PS2) 85/100[12]
(GC) 85/100[13]
Review scores
Publication Score
EGM 7.33/10[14]
Game Informer (PS2) 9.25/10[15]
GamePro 4/5 stars[18]
Game Revolution B+[19]
GameSpot 8.8/10[20][21]
(GC & Xbox) 8.6/10[22]
GameSpy (PC) 4.5/5 stars[23]
4/5 stars[24][25][26]
GameZone 8.9/10[27]
IGN 8.8/10[1][28]
Nintendo Power 3.8/5[29]
OPM (US) 4/5 stars[30]
OXM 8.6/10[31]
PC Gamer (US) 67%[32]
Playboy 88%[33]

The game was met with positive reception upon release. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 84.79% and 87 out of 100 for the PC version;[6][10] 84.70% and 85 out of 100 for the Xbox version;[7][11] 84.14% and 85 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version;[8][12] and 83.75% and 85 out of 100 for the GameCube version.[9][13]


  1. ^ a b Boulding, Aaron (September 26, 2003). "NHL 2004 Review (PC)". IGN. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.nhldepot.net/
  3. ^ http://nhl04rebuilt.com
  4. ^ http://nehl.nhlpc.net/
  5. ^ http://vikfe.blog.cz
  6. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for Xbox". GameRankings. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for PlayStation 2". GameRankings. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for GameCube". GameRankings. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for Xbox Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "NHL 2004 for GameCube Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  14. ^ EGM staff (October 2003). "NHL 2004". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 138. 
  15. ^ Reiner, Andrew (October 2003). "NHL 2004 (PS2)". Game Informer (126): 121. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  16. ^ Reiner, Andrew (October 2003). "NHL 2004 (GC)". Game Informer (126): 131. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  17. ^ Kato, Matthew (October 2003). "NHL 2004 (Xbox)". Game Informer (126): 138. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  18. ^ Air Hendrix (September 23, 2003). "NHL 2004 (GC, PS2, Xbox)". GamePro. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  19. ^ Ferris, Duke "G-Wok" (October 16, 2003). "NHL 2004 Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  20. ^ Navarro, Alex (September 24, 2003). "NHL 2004 Review (PS2)". GameSpot. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  21. ^ Goble, Gord (October 6, 2003). "NHL 2004 Review (PC)". GameSpot. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  22. ^ Navarro, Alex (September 22, 2003). "NHL 2004 Review (GC, Xbox)". GameSpot. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  23. ^ Mahood, Andy (October 27, 2003). "GameSpy: NHL 2004 (PC)". GameSpy. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  24. ^ Fischer, Russ (October 9, 2003). "GameSpy: NHL 2004 (GCN)". GameSpy. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  25. ^ Fischer, Russ (October 9, 2003). "GameSpy: NHL 2004 (PS2)". GameSpy. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  26. ^ Fischer, Russ (October 9, 2003). "GameSpy: NHL 2004 (Xbox)". GameSpy. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  27. ^ Valentino, Nick (October 2, 2003). "NHL 2004 Review - Xbox". GameZone. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  28. ^ Boulding, Aaron (September 26, 2003). "NHL 2004 (GCN, PS2, Xbox)". IGN. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  29. ^ "NHL 2004". Nintendo Power 174: 146. December 2003. 
  30. ^ "NHL 2004". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine: 121. October 2003. 
  31. ^ "NHL 2004". Official Xbox Magazine: 80. October 2003. 
  32. ^ Morris, Dan (December 25, 2003). "NHL 2004". PC Gamer: 97. Archived from the original on March 15, 2006. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  33. ^ "NHL 2004". Playboy: 37. October 2003. 

External links[edit]