One of my main complaints lodged at EA Sports’ NHL series is that it has felt stagnant ever since the development of their “skill stick” feature. They’ve been putting out basically a roster update every October, with some idiotic, now almost anachronistic fighting feature added to the game. Once fights started happening as a response to clean body checks, I decided to check out.
Included in that stagnancy is the commentary team of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement. Though they are popular, they haven’t called a game together since 2004. They also sound like they haven’t updated their video game commentary since that year, as it often all feels hilariously out of date.
So I guess it comes as progress that EA Sports announced that there would be a change today for NHL 15, announcing it more or less with an Emrick-narrated video:
The full details, as per EA: Doc, Eddie Olczyk and Ray Ferraro will be the new “broadcasters” with Ferraro providing — as he does on Canada’s TSN — inside the glass commentary. It’ll be interesting to see if a version of Chicken Parm is in the game in between the benches in all arenas. Doc and Edzo will also do pre-game material similar to Nantz and Simms in the Madden series.
Just for bookkeeping, this is the first video game work for either Olczyk or Ferraro. Olczyk is excited for the opportunity:
Edzo on deal with EA Sports: "To be the voice and to be there with Doc… it's great and my kids are really jacked. I'm very honored."
— Nina Falcone (@NinaFalcone) May 5, 2014
Emrick has done commentary on this sort of thing before, back in the mid-00’s when Sony tried to brand a game around Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky NHL 06 did not catch on, despite its use of Emrick and Darren Pang.
That’s not the only change you’ll see to that section of the game. Similar to what ESPN has done with other sports in the past, NBC Sports is putting their “branding” into the game. You’ll see NBC Sports graphics as part of the display in NHL 15, which is something a 19- or 20-year-old me probably wrote a post about at some point in the past. They’ll be a part of what EA sees as an enhanced pre-game experience.
I’ll be interested to see what this ends up looking like when the game comes out in the fall. That they’re trying out some new stuff is an encouraging sign. Here’s hoping they can fit in all Doc Emrick’s synonyms for the word “pass.”