NHL (video game series)

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.

Logo for EA Sports NHL.png
NHL video game series logo
Genre(s)Sports (ice hockey)
Publisher(s)EA Sports
Platform(s)Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega CD, DOS, Game Boy, Sega Saturn, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Gear, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
First releaseNHL Hockey
Latest releaseNHL 20
September 13, 2019


Video game platforms
GB Game Boy
GBA Game Boy Advance
GBC Game Boy Color
GCN GameCube
GG Game Gear
N64 Nintendo 64
PS1 PlayStation
PS2 PlayStation 2
PS3 PlayStation 3
PS4 PlayStation 4
PSP PlayStation Portable
Sat Sega Saturn
SCD Sega Mega-CD
SMD Sega Genesis / Mega Drive
SNES Super Nintendo Entertainment System / Super Famicom
Wii Wii
Win Microsoft Windows
Xbox Xbox
X360 Xbox 360
XBO Xbox One
Title Year Platforms Cover athletes, worldwide Cover athletes, specific regions
NHL Hockey 1991 SMD
NHLPA Hockey '93 1992 SMD, SNES
NHL '94 1993 DOS, SCD, SMD, SNES
NHL 95 1994 DOS, GB, GG, SMD, SNES
NHL 96 1995 DOS, GB, SMD, SNES
NHL 97 1996 DOS, PS1, Sat, SMD, SNES, Win John Vanbiesbrouck (Florida)[1]
NHL 98 1997 PS1, Sat, SMD, SNES, Win Peter Forsberg (Colorado)[1]
NHL 99 1998 N64, PS1, Win Eric Lindros (Philadelphia)[1]
NHL 2000 1999 GBC, PS1, Win Chris Pronger (St. Louis)[1]
NHL 2001 2000 PS1, PS2, Win Owen Nolan (San Jose)[1]
NHL 2002 2001 GBA, PS2, Win, Xbox Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh)[1]
NHL 2003 2002 GCN, PS2, Win, Xbox Jarome Iginla (Calgary)[1]
NHL 2004 2003 GCN, PS2, Win, Xbox
NHL 2005 2004 GCN, PS2, Win, Xbox Markus Naslund (Vancouver)[1][3] EU Olli Jokinen (Florida)[2]
NHL 06 2005 GCN, PS2, Win, Xbox Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay)[1] EU Tuomo Ruutu (Chicago)[2]
NHL 07 2006 X360, PS2, PSP, Win, Xbox Alexander Ovechkin (Washington)[1]
NHL 08 2007 PS3, X360, PS2, Win Eric Staal (Carolina)[1]
NHL 09 2008 PS3, X360, PS2, Win Dion Phaneuf (Calgary)[1][4]
3 on 3 NHL Arcade 2009 PS3, X360 None
NHL 10 2009 PS3, X360 Patrick Kane (Chicago)[1][5]
NHL 11 2010 PS3, X360 Jonathan Toews (Chicago)[6]
NHL Slapshot 2010 Wii Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton)
NHL 12 2011 PS3, X360 Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay)
NHL 13 2012 PS3, X360 Claude Giroux (Philadelphia)
NHL 14 2013 PS3, X360 Martin Brodeur (New Jersey)
NHL 15 2014 PS4, XBO, PS3, X360 Patrice Bergeron (Boston)
NHL 16 2015 PS4, XBO Jonathan Toews (Chicago) SUI Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild)
NHL: Legacy Edition 2015 PS3, X360 None (Stanley Cup pictured instead)
NHL 17 2016 PS4, XBO Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis) SUI Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota)[17]
NHL 18 2017 PS4, XBO Connor McDavid (Edmonton) SUI Roman Josi (Nashville) (The Josi cover was officially released as a downloadable cover by EA Sports, but the McDavid cover was sold at retail in Switzerland)[18]
NHL 19 [19] 2018 PS4, XBO P. K. Subban (Nashville) FIN Patrik Laine (Winnipeg)[20]
SWE William Nylander (Toronto)[20]
NHL 20 [21] 2019 PS4, XBO Auston Matthews (Toronto) FIN Patrik Laine (Winnipeg)
SWE Elias Pettersson (Vancouver)

^† 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.[2]
^‡ ‡ 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.[22]
^EU in Europe; ^DEN in   Denmark; ^FIN in   Finland; ^RUS in   Russia; ^SWE in   Sweden; ^SUI in    Switzerland; ^CZE in   Czech Republic

Game coversEdit

NHL 95 cover for the Mega Drive.

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 featured Toews alone. At the 2016 NHL Awards, it was announced that Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues was to appear on the cover of NHL 17.[23] On June 21, 2017, during the 2017 NHL Awards, EA announced that Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers would be the cover athlete on NHL 18.[24]


In NHLPA '93 and NHL '94, Emmy award-winning[25] 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. NBC Sports commentator Mike "Doc" Emrick provided the play-by-play commentary on all platforms, with his first appearance being in NHL 15 and last in NHL 19. James Cybulski is the current play-by-play commentator, starting with NHL 20. NHL 15 was also the first game to introduce an ice level analyst, with TSN analyst Ray Ferraro appearing in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game. 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), Ed "Eddie" Olczyk (2014–2018). Ferraro made the jump from ice-level analyst to full color commentator in NHL 20.


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 and Hip Hop 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, while the soundtrack continues playing in the arenas. NHL 17 returned to the traditional EA Trax feature and also allowed the option to switch back to the original score from NHL 15.

NHL series in popular cultureEdit


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."


In the 2017 book adaption of Wonder, the beginning scenes show August playing a game between the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers in NHL 17 after mentioning he likes playing such games. It is, however, quite hard to notice.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Bonanno, Rocky (2009-06-22). "Kane lands on EA SPORTS NHL 10 cover". NHL.com. Archived from the original on 2011-06-28. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brown, Erin (2009-08-11). "EA's NHL series: cursed or not?". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  3. ^ a b c d e f NHL 10 cover athlete: Nicklas Bäckström [archived June 26, 2009; Retrieved 2010-06-29].
  4. ^ a b c 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].
  5. ^ a b c d e Samit Sarkar. Watch the NHL 10 international cover athletes do their thing; 2009-07-13 [Retrieved 2010-06-14].
  6. ^ EA Sports. Stanley Cup Champion Jonathan Toews the New Face of EA SPORTS NHL 11 [press release]. 21 June 2010 [cited 21 June 2010].
  7. ^ Jonas Elfving. Game reactor. Swedish. Sedin-bröderna på NHL 11-omslag [Needs translation]; 2010-06-23 [Retrieved 2010-06-23].
  8. ^ The Swiss And The Swedes Get Their Own NHL 11. 24 June 2010 [cited 24 June 2010].
  9. ^ / Jonas Hiller en couverture de NHL 12. 27 June 2011 [cited 27 June 2011].
  10. ^ "Henrik Sedin at NHL 13 Midnight Launch [Pictures]". 604 Now. September 12, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  11. ^ "Uudesta änäristä Jari Kurrin arvoinen erikoisversio" (in Finnish). Pelaaja. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  12. ^ Här är omslagen till NHL 14 EA Sports Club Edition - SHL.se (Swedish)
  13. ^ http://www.liiga.fi/arkisto/uutiset/sm-liigan-joukkueet-saivat-persoonalliset-nhl14-kannet.html
  14. ^ «El Nino» est prêt à faire chauffer les glaces de NHL. 22 July 2014 [cited 23 July 2014].
  15. ^ Spelarna som pryder specialomslagen av EA SPORTS NHL 15 (Swedish)
  16. ^ "EA julkaisee NHL15 –pelistä Liiga Edition -keräilyversion" (in Finnish). Liiga. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  17. ^ "Minnesota Wild's Nino Niederreiter to appear on Swiss cover of NHL 17". FOX Sports. July 28, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  18. ^ "Roman Josi PS4 Cover" (PDF). EA Sports. October 11, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  19. ^ https://www.ebgames.ca/Xbox%20One/Games/750646
  20. ^ a b "William Nylander pryder NHL 19-omslaget i Sverige". Gamereactor (in Swedish). 2 August 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  21. ^ https://www.gamespot.com/articles/nhl-20-revealed-battle-royale-cover-star-release-d/1100-6467885/
  22. ^ Mike Cole. NESN. EA Sports Pulls Patrick Kane From 'NHL 16' Cover Amid Reported Rape Investigation; 2015-08-12 [Retrieved 2015-08-15].
  23. ^ Gold-Smith, Josh (August 12, 2015). "Blackhawks' Patrick Kane removed from 'NHL 16' cover amid investigation". The Score. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  24. ^ "Oilers' Connor McDavid named EA Sports NHL 18 cover athlete - Sportsnet.ca". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  25. ^ "Sports Byline USA with Ron Barr". Sports Byline USA. Retrieved January 2, 2016.

External linksEdit