At the end of each summer, EA Sports releases two of its most prolific video game franchises in terms of popularity and award-winning staffs: Madden NFL and NHL.
Surely you've heard of the "Madden Curse", the distinct title given to the NFL player that is showcased on the front of the Madden cover for a given year. While disaster seems to fall upon those NFL stars, it appears that the NHL cover creates the opposite result: even more success.
This year, Calvin Johnson is featured on the cover of Madden NFL '13; pundits have been quick to call for Megatron's demise this season. Meanwhile, Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux, NHL '13's coverboy, could reach new heights.
Prior to the 1996 release of NHL '97, there was never a single player that had the honor of being featured on the NHL cover. That changed when Florida Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck was featured and he went on to record his career-best numbers in GAA (2.29) and save percentage (.919%). Those numbers were never bested again.
Peter Forsberg was the focus of NHL '98, and the Colorado center registered 91 points that season, including 66 assists. He had only three other seasons in his career with a higher point total. Care to guess how the season of Eric Lindros went when he was chosen for the cover of NHL '99? (hint: he didn't receive a concussion)
The Philadelphia center recorded 40 goals and 93 points while sporting a career-best plus/minus of +35. He never had a season with more than 73 points thereafter. Things had to change in NHL 2000 when a defenseman, Chris Pronger, was featured, right? Wrong.
Pronger established his current career highs in goals (14), assists (48), points (62), and plus/minus (+52) with the St. Louis Blues.
To speed the process up, here's a list of the NHL players post-lockout that have been showcased on the NHL cover. Unlike the Madden Curse, none have suffered a major injury in the year they were chosen.
NHL '06: Vincent Lecavalier. Established a new career high in goals with 35 while registering 75 points. (Games played: 80)
NHL '07: Alexander Ovechkin. Registered 46 goals and 92 points. (Games played: 82)
NHL '08: Eric Staal. Recorded 82 points, and hasn't recorded more than 76 since. (Games played: 82)
NHL '09: Dion Phaneuf. Had 36 assists and 47 points for the Calgary Flames. Hasn't reached either mark in any season since. (Games played: 80)
NHL '10: Patrick Kane. Established current career-highs in goals (30), assists (58), and points (88). (Games played: 82)
NHL '11: Jonathan Toews. Registered current career-highs in assists (44) and points (78). (Games played: 80)
NHL '12: Steven Stamkos. The best one yet. Scored a career-high 60 goals as well as registering a career-high of 97 points. (Games played: 82)
Some things in this world just can't be explained.
NHL coverboys produce exceptional stats when they are chosen; the six forwards on the NHL cover post-lockout have averaged 85.3 points in that season. But the seemingly perfect track record regarding the health of the players is uncanny. Of the seven players showcased on the NHL cover post-lockout, four of the players played in every game while the other three played in 80 contests.
Claude Giroux recorded 63 assists and 93 points in 2011-12. If history repeats itself, the city of Philadelphia could be in for quite a show from the star center.
If there's a season. (sigh)
Tags: Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Hockey, John Vanbiesbrouck, Madden, NHL, Peter Forsberg, Philadelphia Flyers, Steven Stamkos, Washington, Washington Capitals