The last time a Dallas Star graced the cover of a video game was when Marty Turco graced the cover of NHL2k6.
It's time for a change. Tonight EA Sports is going to announce the cover athlete for NHL 16 at the NHL Awards Show. Jamie Benn is already leaving with the Art Ross and he could pick up the Ted Lindsay Award. Why not complete the night and walk away as a cover athlete for a video game?
Yeah, he does have some competition.
Subban lost to Patrice Bergeon last year when EA put the cover to a vote. He's among the most dynamic players in the league and one of the most entertaining. Charisma is off the charts here, and no one would be a better ambassador for the game and league than Subban. The man can wear a suit:
If selected, Subban would be the first black man to be on the cover since Jarome Iginla on NHL 2003, and while this seems ridiculous, he would be the first Montreal Canadiens player to be on the cover.
No Ottawa Senators have ever made the cover. Not even Jason Spezza. Could Karlsson be the first? He won the Norris Trophy in 2012 as the league's top defenseman. He's nominated again this year with Subban and Drew Doughty. He has 303 points in 397 career games. He turned 25 in May.
The last defenseman on the cover was Dion Phaneuf for NHL 2009. Chris Pronger, Scott Stevens, and Randy Moller are the only defenemen ever on the cover. To be perfectly honest Moller barely counts given that he shared it with Mike Richter and Rod Brind'amour. It's (almost) time for a change.
We're continuing a theme here. The franchise needs more defensemen represented. Doughty and Shea Weber are possibilities too, but Keith is much more topical. He has a Norris to his name. He now has three Stanley Cup rings, most recently earlier this month. He also just picked up the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were already cover athletes so Keith might not get consideration, but he should.
The legacy candidate. Datsyuk has been among the best players in the league for over a decade. He's won four Lady Byngs and three Selkes. Last season he was over a point per game once again at age 36. EA won't have many more chances to put him on a cover. They have never put a Russian on the cover not named Alex (Alex Kovalev, and Alex Ovechkin) so this would be a nice nod towards Russian diversification.
Marian Hossa hasn't been on a video game. Joe Thornton has never been on the cover either. Plenty of high quality players never made it. I don't understand the push for Datsyuk, but there is a vocal minority of people who want to see him on the cover.
Tavares has a very similar case for being on the cover to Jamie Benn except for one key point: the one point Benn beat Tavares by to win the scoring title. Tavares is in New York, but barely. He isn't a Ranger so he may as well be in Las Vegas, He's a young exciting superstar, but if he gets the nod over Benn this year it would be a shame.
He has the name recognition to make this happen, but who would buy the game with Perry on the cover? No one I would willingly associate with would do such a thing. They want to sell games. Call this a wild card possibility.
EA has never put a known bald man on the cover. Please do not start now. See above about Corey Perry.
Price is among the top goalies in the league and with Subban carried the Canadiens into the playoffs. He has a very strong case for the Hart Trophy as MVP. This would be one of the least surprising possible cover athletes. Like Subban, he would be the first Canadiens player on the cover if chosen.
Another legacy candidate like Datsyuk. Lundqvist is still at the top of his game in the biggest media market in the world backstopping a perennial contender. They found a way to put Martin Brodeur on the cover in the midst of a season where he had a .901 save percentage. Maybe they would like to put an older goalie on the cover who is actually still good this time.
These guys are great and all, but how many of them won the Art Ross? EA does need to recognize more defensemen in the future, but not right now. Tonight is the night of Jamie Benn. Put him on the cover.
Edit: EA Sports released a gameplay trailer yesterday. They then said the cover athlete is in the video. Of the candidates listed above only Benn, Getzlaf, Perry, Karlsson, and Tavares are shown. Numerous players are in the video. Tyler Seguin, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, David Perron, James Neal, Ovechkin, Pekka Rinne, Dion Phaneuf, Claude Giroux, Nicklas Kronwall, Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Cam Ward, several New York Rangers with Martin St. Louis at the center, Gabriel Landeskog, Tuuka Rask, and Ryan Suter among others are present.
Phaneuf, Giroux, Kane, and Ovechkin have previously been on covers. Of this group Rask, Suter, Rinne, and Seguin make some sense. I feel like it's going to be Benn or Tavares though with Suter having a shot too or something nauseating with Perry and Getzlaf together. We'll see soon.