The honor will go to Auston Matthews instead
With back-to-back Stanley Cup trophies on the resume and several players that are in the argument for best player in their position (Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov) and a recognizable veteran in Steven Stamkos, it seemed like the Tampa Bay Lightning would have a good shot at having a cover athlete for next season’s EA Sports NHL game.
The erstwhile video game franchise had other plans. On Thursday they announced that Auston Matthews was their cover athlete for NHL 22. It’s the second time in the last three seasons that the Toronto forward has graced the front of the box for the most popular hockey video game on the planet. Good for him.
Get ready to experience breakthrough hockey in #NHL22
— EA SPORTS NHL (@EASPORTSNHL) August 19, 2021
It has now been more than a decade since a Lightning athlete has been the signature face for the franchise. Steven Stamkos held the honors for NHL 12 while Vincent Lecavalier made an apprentice for NHL 06 (also roughly the last time I played a NHL video game). Marty St. Louis appeared on the front of NHL2K5, a now-defunct competitor.
Since it is the offseason there was a mild amount of outrage to the Lightning players getting snubbed. Personally, I would think that based on his last two postseason runs Vasilevskiy would have had a great shot at getting on the cover, especially because it’s been awhile since they put a goaltender on the front (Martin Brodeur, NHL14).
The game won’t be released until October 15th, so this will quickly fade into the background.
Lightning/ NHL news
Geo took a look at the top-line forwards yesterday in his graded reviews of the season. Spoiler – Nikita Kucherov graded out fairly well in the playoffs. [Raw Charge]
Continuing the trend of eating stuff out of the Stanley Cup was Cedric Paquette. The former Lightning center celebrated his day with the cup by eating a local delicacy – shrimp poutine.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) August 19, 2021
Joe Smith spoke with Ryan McDonagh about last season, team meetings, bag pipes, and playing with a broken hand. The injury happened in Game 7 against the Islanders, it was the third time he’s broken a bone in his hand, and he feels like it’s pretty much healed (“I skated last week and didn’t notice anything”). [The Athletic – subscription required]
The city of Glendale has decided not to renew the operating agreement for the the Gila River Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes. As of right now, that means the Coyotes are without a home following the 2021-22 season. The news lit the fire of relocation rumors that have plagued the franchise for years. Could they be on the move to Houston or Kansas City or Quebec City? Heck, why not give Atlanta a third crack at a NHL franchise?
The current ownership does seem committed to keeping the team in Arizona, even if it’s in a different city. Hello, Scottsdale! In their official statement they didn’t rule out re-entering negotiations with Glendale in hopes of working out a new agreement. Time will tell how this works out. [Five for Howling]
There will be no official Owen Power rookie card from Upper Deck next year. The number one pick by the Buffalo Sabres will be heading back to Michigan instead of suiting up in the NHL. It’s not a bad move for Power or the Sabres. They are going to be a train wreck next season and throwing him into that mess probably wouldn’t be great for his development. [Die by the Blade]