EA announces unlikely cover athlete for NHL 12
During the annual NHL Awards in Las Vegas this Wednesday, EA revealed their NHL 12 cover athlete – Tampa Bay Lighting forward Steven Stamkos. It may have come as a bit of a surprise to some who might’ve expected the cover to feature a player from the Stanley Cup Finals, although considering recent events in Vancouver, it makes sense that EA are feeling more amiable towards the totally inoffensive, uncontroversial Lightning forward than they might’ve been with Canucks and Bruins players.
In fact, Stamkos didn’t put in a bad year for the Lightning before the team lost out to the Bruins during game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a tense, heated match-up and each line from the Tampa bench was putting in a good effort throughout the full series. In Game 7, Stamkos caught a puck to the face and his nose was broken. He quickly got off the ice only to return minutes later with a more sufficient facemask and a newfound eagerness to hit the ice. In an era where sports are becoming more politically correct and it’s almost commonplace for players to feign injuries during a series, it’s refreshing to see someone with Stamkos’ resilience on the ice.
While that might not have been enough to take the Lightning to the Stanley Cup finals, they had a great year. The Lightning have been attracting exceptionally positive press and in a year without Sidney Crosby, Stamkos may have been one of the top forwards in the league. Although it landed him the NHL 12 cover spot, it still wasn’t enough to net him a Hart Trophy during the ceremony.
Stamkos’ appearance breaks the two year streak established by Chicago Blackhawks on back-to-back NHL games (Patrick Kane on NHL 10 and Jonathon Toews on NHL 11). It shows the same interest in featuring young talent that EA’s pursued post-lockout, showcasing up-and-comers, rather than seasoned veterans.
That doesn’t mean there’s much of a risk here, as the 21 year old Tampa Bay forward’s stats should speak for themselves. In the press release, he also professed that he’s been a fan of the NHL hockey games since early-on and often played the games with teammates after receiving a first round draft pick from the Lightning in ’08.