EA Sports and SB Nation are working together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of NHL 94' and the release of NHL 14, and today challenge the sites to consider the "thrill of the big hit."
According to EA, "the Collision Physics system, which borrows from the FIFA series' Player Impact Engine, introduces more rag doll reactions to players suffering hits, including the goalie."
(No word yet on if cross-checking Kari Lehtonen's face in the game produces a similar "embellishment" like what the Capitals saw.)
Hey, maybe Jamie Oleksiak can come to love big hits through the game first and then bring it to the ice...
Big hits in video games are fun, and these new animations offer unparalleled satisfaction to users in their exaggerated depictions.
There's nothing a crowd likes more than an actual big hit, and while the league works tirelessly to minimize the quantity of injurious collisions, it also goes out of its way to promote the clean ones.
When you watch a highlight on the Stars' website (or any NHL team's) the clips are broken down into categories. Goals. Saves. Hits. When you wait to watch a Stars game at the arena you're sometimes treated to an NHL produced big-hit highlight reel.
Hitting is good, while fighting is getting vilified, but the two are inextricably linked. Bad hits are punished by the league, but there's a price to be paid on the ice as well - Usually in the form of a fight.
What happens when fighting is out of the game some day? Will the game be unable to police itself, or, more likely, would the "big hit" then become something else entirely that keeps Jeremy Roenick up at night popping his jaw? What if a big hit becomes the only recourse the players have in a fight-less world?
Would the league still promote so?
One kind of fighting we would like to see eliminated? The kind that get started after a big, clean hit. That's where respect for the game and a pinch of humility need to take over. The hockey machismo that says "you embarrassed me or my teammate so now I have to beat your ___" can occasionally be asinine. Every hit that is of the "big" or spectacular variety is not then automatically a dirty one.
But I digress.
Football is continually changing their rules about what an illegal hit is, and so too will hockey. Keep your copy of NHL 14 - It may come in handy if you have to explain to your grandchildren what the game used to be like some day.
Good one from this year already as Brenden Dillon lays out Tom Wilson:
Good one from last year:
For fun, Stars' hit totals:
2012-2013: 2048 (pro-rated*)
Hit numbers are a joke, particularly at the AAC where the off-ice officials sometimes hand them out like prescription drugs at a retirement home, but the notion that good teams don't have as many hits because they're the ones with the puck is still a good one. Root for fewer this year.