By Allan Muir
On some level, everyone recognizes that the cover athlete for a video game matters about as much as a vice-presidential running mate, right? A game, especially one in a long-running series like EA Sports’ NHL brand, sells itself on its own merits. They could probably slap a stick figure on the front and sell exactly as many copies as they would if it featured Sidney Crosby.
But they can’t put Sid on the front every year — things would get a little confusing if they did — and the NHL and NHLPA licenses demand that a current player wearing his team’s logo must be prominently featured. They’re fussy about that sort of thing.
So credit the marketing whizzes at EA Sports for turning a meaningless decision into an annual event guaranteed to get hardcore hockey fans and hockey gamers all worked up ahead of the product’s September release.
The online voting to find a successor to Claude Giroux as the cover athlete for EA’s NHL ’14 began Monday with 60 players, two from each team, vying for your love. From there, the field will be winnowed down to 30 team reps plus two wild cards based on most votes earned in a losing effort. That will create a 32-player bracket-style tournament from which a winner eventually will be crowned.