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September 14, 1990 was a very, very regrettable day for the human race. On that day – I, Patrick Damp, was brought into this world.
However, September 14, 2018 will be a great day for the world of video games as the newest installment of the EA Sports NHL franchise, NHL 19 will be released for PS4 and Xbox One. (The latter being the superior system, do not @ me.)
I have been playing the NHL franchise consistently since 2010, that’s when I was in college so I had a lot of free time! NHL 10 was a huge pivot from the NHLs of the 2000s, because EA finally started taking it more seriously. NHL 10 began pivoting into making the game more Madden-esque by implementing stickhandling and skating engines, improved AI, more game modes outside of season, playoffs and exhibitions.
Game modes such as Be A Pro, Hockey Ultimate Team and the very popular EA Sports Hockey League (EASHL) debuted to wild popularity.
For the past eight years, EA has pretty much just made minor tweaks and alterations to the engines and game modes and a common complaint of the franchise is that it has grown stale.
So, with September 14, 2018 being my birthday, let’s make a wish list for NHL 19.
Are you sick and tired of skating through the neutral zone and getting pinned along the bench boards? (Something that never, ever happens in hockey)
Well, we’re going to take out ALL the hockey for this brand new Be A Pro mode. During Intangible Mode we’re inverting Be A Pro Mode. You’ll be skipping your shifts and spending all your time on the bench and in the locker room.
Press A: “Here we go boys!!’
Press X: Add -er or -y to the end of your teammate’s last name
Press Y: Stand up to hit the boards (LB with your stick, RB with your glove)
Press B: Simulate to next stint on the bench.
Once the period ends, we don’t go to the pause menu, oh no! We head into the sacred temple that is the locker room. It’s here you get to show your value to the team. After coach finishes giving his speech you’ll have 72 different phrases to choose from, including “110% here fellas,” “Heads up out there boys” and the classic “We’re in one here!”
The truest test of Intangible Mode will be if you happened to be a part of a championship team and you can bring your “rings in the room” mentality.
Be A GM Mode Part 2:
Once again, we’re taking the hockey equation right out of this – you will not and cannot play with the team you construct, as a matter of fact, you’re not really even going to construct a team!
Welcome to the exclusive club that is being a National Hockey League general manager. This boys club is going to be ripe with cliches, risk-aversion and fighting off the stupid as long as possible, but much like death and taxes, it comes for all.
The most taxing part of this game mode will take place in the offseason. From June 15 until July 1, you will be bombarded with restricted free agents that are about to hit the market. We’re talking early 20s, productive players on mostly affordable deals. Should you offer sheet them? OF COURSE YOU SHOULD. Will you? Sorry, that option isn’t available because one day, around the next season’s trade deadline, you’re going to have to swap a fourth liner and late round pick with that GM you decided to completely screw over with that offer sheet.
Remember how in the original Be A GM mode you would occasionally have a chance for a waiver claim? Chances are you passed, but imagine that for nearly 25 minutes, nonstop, with no option for yes.
There will also be opportunities to defend poor signings and worse trades to the media through cliches and non-answers.
Canadian Media Mode:
Do you have a trivial vendetta against an NHL player? Never forget – he refused to answer a question you asked after a December 2007 loss, so clearly the team is wasting valuable cap room, roster space and just overall decency by keeping this player on the roster.
The biggest challenge of this game mode comes in the days between games and the offseason. You’ll have to walk the tightrope between needling a player, but not being too obvious about it.
Here’s some tips, as I got to test the beta version of this game:
- Insinuate locker room issues. Never explicitly say anything too damning, like you can’t imply there were fisticuffs, but you hear rumblings and murmurs that this guy doesn’t command the respect he should in the room.
- You are the Rosetta Stone when it comes to coach and player-speak. Sure, the coach may have said that this player is at his best when he’s engaged and competitive, but remember: YOU’RE THE EXPERT. That doesn’t mean he’s a great player and competitive, it means he has a bad attitude and is clashing with his coach! You’ve watched several games from a perch, so you know this.
- Wait for your moment. There will come a postgame scrum this player doesn’t have media availability and that’s when you strike. It’s time for the 2,500 word column about how this player “just doesn’t get it” and “can’t handle the spotlight.” He didn’t answer YOUR question so clearly, he’s gotta go.
Be A Commissioner Mode
You’ve been a pro, you’ve been a GM and you’ve been an owner, the only hurdle left to clear is to run the whole damn thing.
Gary Bettman is stepping down as commissioner of the National Hockey League and you’re the next in line to inherit the boos, the cost certainty and of course, denying your league has ever done anything wrong ever.
Get excited for NHL 19’s newest game mode where you become a lackey for the owners, a PR nightmare and being one white cat away from super villainy.
In this simulated timeline it will be your job to find out exactly what the owners want from the next collective bargaining agreement. These sympathetic billionaires are the true heroes of NHL 19. They’ll make sure you are fully aware that losing two weeks of NHL hockey every four years will truly hurt their bottom line and they can’t bare the thought of growing globally, because real dollars today are far better than theoretical dollars tomorrow. Now, of course we have to make sure that all the revenue from promoting players, games and the sport should be given to their rightful heirs: the owners. It doesn’t matter that for seven months these players put their well-being on the line, you need to take care of the people that give them the privilege to do so.
Can you beat Gary’s three lockouts in 30 years? It’s up to you to beat the streak!
Doc Emrick Mini Games
Unquestionably one of the best decisions EA Sports made was to get Doc Emrick as the play-by-play voice for the series. They were so smart about it that rather than getting Pierre McGuire to join them, they got Ray Ferraro.
We’re going to utilize Doc’s many abilities for these brand new time-killers.
- Bucco Brigade: It’s March, April, May and June, the stretch run of the NHL season, the sprint to the finish. That means one thing to the Emmy-showered broadcaster, baseball season. While watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs from Doc’s point of view, it’s on you to meet a predetermined goal of Pittsburgh Pirates references. The better you get – the more references you need to weave into your broadcast!
- Verb Run: Any run of the mill play-by-play man can use words such as passed, shot and chipped, but not you. You’re The Doc Emrick. A certain hockey action will be placed in front of you and you need to come up with as many synonyms as you can for them such as skittered, shoveled, knifed, popsiciled and so on.
- Pierre Parody: Everyone that’s ever watched an NBC/NBCSN broadcast is well-aware that Pierre McGuire will butt in at not only inopportune times, but puzzling times. It’s now on you to convey to the viewer that you are bothered by this, but you can’t let Pierre know. “Thank you for that, Pierre…” Can you handle this?
NHL 19 comes out September 14, 2018 and to be honest, I’m actually excited for once. On a serious note, the pond hockey mode looks incredible and from what I understand a lot of the skating engine is getting revamped, which thank god.
After nearly a decade of playing these games religiously, I’m going to keep making that decision for better or for worse. If you don’t want to buy it, don’t!