The domain of video games has witnessed numerous memorable covers, and within EA Sports' NHL series, there exists a unique thrill in discovering the hockey superstar chosen to adorn the cover each year.
Let's retrospectively examine the finest five game covers to date, spotlighting the distinctive qualities that rendered each one unforgettable, and analyzing their role in shaping the future of the game.
#1 NHL 2002 featuring Mario Lemieux
The year 2002 is indelibly etched in memory due to its commentary, with one of the enduring lines delivered by commentator Jim Hughson resonating when Mario Lemieux takes control of the puck.
Lemieux requires no formal introduction, standing as one of the all-time finest players to play in the league. With a remarkable tally of 1,723 points and numerous Penguins records that not even Crosby has surpassed. Despite being injury-prone, he managed to achieve statistics on par with The Great One despite not completing full seasons. Such achievements undeniably justify his presence on the cover.
#2 NHL 07 - Alexander Ovechkin
Ovechkin became the inaugural cover athlete who continues to actively participate in the league, retaining his status as one of the most extraordinary talents on the rink. Ovechkin has posed a significant challenge for defensemen over nearly twenty seasons, and his performance shows no indication of waning. Furthermore, his consistent award achievements are noticeable making him appear on the cover in 2021 also.
#3 NHL 2005 - Markus Naslund
In 2005, the challenge of portraying a season that never transpired was evident. Although it might appear that Markus Naslund faced a challenging situation, his commendable career deserved acknowledgement. Alongside the Sedin twins, he played a pivotal role in elevating the Canucks to consistent playoff contenders. The year 2005 marked a significant period for Naslund, coinciding with his prime, following three exceptional seasons.
#4 NHL 09 - Dion Phaneuf
The NHL 2009 signifies the initial appearance of a defenseman on the cover since the era of 16-bit consoles. Beyond his widely discussed competitive relationship with Sean Avery, Phaneuf was renowned for his potent slapshot and impressive tenure with the Flames.
While he later transitioned to teams in Toronto and Ottawa, he maintained his reputation as one of the premier defensemen in the league.
#5 NHL 16 - Jonathan Toews
Toews holds the distinction of being the initial player to grace two EA sports covers, with a span of merely five titles between them – a fact that might not be astonishing. His renown was established on the foundations of diligence and accountability, and his commitment to the long-term strategy undeniably yielded fruitful results.