A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Eric Staal on cover of EA's NHL '08

This week, EA Sports announced that Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal will be on the cover of NHL 2008, which will be released in September. People quickly started talking about the "EA Curse". I see no reason to be alarmed. It doesn't work with hockey games. This applies mainly to the Madden football games. The cover star of that game almost always goes on to have a horrible season or suffer a terrible injury that season. Or go to jail.
Mike Chen once wrote something about the EA Hockey curse, but I'm not buying it. Neither is "Stormbringer". In her words:
My personal take on a good chunk of the above is that a lot of it is *really* a stretch. To me, a "curse" would be solidified by the bad things happening to the cover boys in the season that their respective EA game is supposed to represent, NOT a few seasons later.

A few years ago, on the other blog, I wrote this piece to debunk the Sports Illustrated Superbowl Jinx. You can read about that here and also here.

For now, I'll just go over the EA NHL games since 1997, which was the first year that they used a "cover boy"

1997 -- John Vanbiesbrouck
After helping the Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, goalie John Vanbiesbrouck had a slightly better season while he was featured on the game box.
His record went from 26-20-7 in '96 to 27-19-10 in '97. His GAA went from 2.68 to 2.29 and his save % went from .904 to .919. He had a few more decent seasons after.

1998 -- Peter Forsberg
Foppa's game was also slightly better while he was the cover boy. In 1997, he had 86 points (28/58) in 65 games. While he was on the game box, he had 91 points (25/66) in 72 games. The points per game production was down by a hair, but he was healthier, and being on the box wasn't anything like a "curse" that season.

1999 -- Eric Lindros
Big E's numbers went up pretty significantly after being on the box. In 1998, he had 71 (30/41) points in 63 games. After starring on the box, he had 93 (40/53) points in 71 games. It would be his last "great" season

2000 -- Chrissy Pronger
The former Whaler had his career best season while he was on the game box. He had 62 points on 14 goals and 48 assists. All of these were -- and still are -- career high marks. He also won the Bud Light Plus/Minus award for the second time that year, finishing the season with an amazing +52 rating. Also a career best.

2001 -- Owen Nolan
This guy had a bad season while on the box. He had a career best (playing over ability) 84 point (44/40) season the previous year, but was riddled with injuries and only mustered 49 (24/25) points in 57 games for the Sharks in 2001. Although his points were down, they were back on the "normal" level after the extraordinary season in 2000. Not so much a "curse" as a return to normalcy.

2002 -- SuperMario
Mario Lemieux played half a season in 2001, but still managed to put up awesome numbers with 76 (35/41) points in just 43 games. He beat cancer and came back with a great half-season, and it was an obvious thing to put him on the box. He suffered injuries in 2002, and was limited to 24 games. However, he tallied 31 points (6/25), which would be equal to having 106 points over 82 games. Not bad at all. He rebounded the following year some outstanding numbers, but his health caused him to be a shadow of the player he once was.

2003 -- Jarome Iginla
Iggy had a bit of a letdown after winning the Rocket Richard trophy in 2002. He went from 96 (52/44) points in '02 to a paltry 67 (35/32) points in '03. Like Owen Nolan, though, his big season was a flash in the pan, and the "letdown" was really just a return to normalcy. He did, however reach the 90 point plateau again this past season.

2004 (a) -- Dany Heatley
We don't need to discuss what happened there. Actually, he put up pretty decent numbers after returning from the massive injury, and while he was battling inner demons the whole time.
2004 (b) -- Joe Sakic
Sakic had a big season for the Avs, maintaining his career average of slightly better than a point a night. He totaled 87 (33/54) points in 81 games.

2005 -- Markus Naslund
There was no season, due to the lockout, so we can't really comment there.

2006 -- Vincent LaCavalier
Before the lockout, the Horseman had a "fair" 66 (32/34) point season, but led his team to the Stanley Cup Championship. In '06, he put up 75 (35/40) points, but his best was yet to come. In '07, he tallied 108 (52/56) points and won the Rocket Richard.

2007 -- Alexander Ovechkin

AO's career has been too short to talk about things like "career averages" and things of that nature, so we'll just say that there was a slight decline in points production during his sophomore season. He put up 106 (52/54) points in his rookie campaign, then "dropped" to "just" 92 (46/46) points last year. Not enough of a drop to be worthy of note, and not enough data to make any other judgement.

2008 -- Eric Staal
Staalsy blew up in his sophomore season, hitting the 100 point (45/55) mark, but fell considerably to just 70 (30/40)points last season. We're looking forward to a return to the 100 point club next year.

No reason to sweat it. There's no curse.

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