Electronic Arts' upcoming Wii game to feature hockey stick controller, Wayne Gretzky

gretzkytired.jpgIt’s no secret that Electronic Arts took over the hockey video game genre, at least on the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3, with its NHL series. There’s a reason that Take-Two Interactive decided to pull its NHL2K series off of the consoles that emphasize graphics. Yet now the one advantage Take Two enjoyed – publishing the only licensed hockey game on Nintendo’s stupidly popular Wii console – looks to be a thing of the past starting next season. EA’s game will be called “NHL Slapshot” and is expected to ship by September 7.

EA’s puck-based debut on the console isn’t the only big news, though. The software company is bringing out the big guns with the game: Wayne Gretzky will play the role of cover star and the game shall include a small hockey stick that the company claims will respond to hockey-like movements.

This, quite frankly, is the exact kind of thing hockey fans have been dreaming about since the Wii came out. Of course, Canoe.ca’s blog points out that these situations can often be too good to be true.

It’s hard to say what the biggest news is here. That EA is finally doing their first NHL game for the Wii, challenging 2K Sports on their previously exclusive turf? That Gretzky is involved as the cover athlete and in-game playable character? Or that NHL Slapshot will use a minature hockey stick peripheral that ships with each copy of the game?

Yeah, I’m gonna say it’s the stick. Because if this thing works, it could be a crazy amount of fun. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be yet another hunk of plastic discarded next to those silly third-party tennis racket add-ons, the original Guitar Hero II controller and the Tony Hawk: Ride skateboard.

Indeed, the problem with many Wii products is that they’re often under-developed and gimmicky. EA, for their part, is saying all the right things about what sounds like a very exciting innovation for hockey dorks such as myself. Steve Tilley spoke with with the game’s lead producer, Joe Nickolls.

Nickolls says that because the stick peripheral holds both the Nunchuk (in the butt end of the stick, with the analog stick used for moving your player) and the Wiimote (further down the shaft, with the trigger used as a modifier to execute certain moves), it’s more accurate than the Wiimote alone.

“Because you’re getting two signals sent to the Wii, it triangulates the signal. So it basically gives you more accuracy,” Nickolls says, adding that WiiMotion Plus won’t be supported by NHL Slapshot because it’s essentially not needed.

The stick peripheral will detect slap shots, wrist shots, body checks (done with a cross-check motion) and poke checks, with the Wiimote’s trigger used as a modifier to perform passes, dekes and other moves. The game can also be played with the Wiimote and Nunchuk alone, or even just the Wiimote.

Anyway, the story also describes some kid-friendly modes called “Peewees to Pros” that makes me worry that the game may be geared only toward children. Yet if EA can make a game that could appeal to kids as well as man-children (and women-children), then they might be onto something huge.

Especially if that goofy looking little stick actually works like a dream.

(H/T to From the Rink)

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    Blue Jackets’ Murray leaves game with upper body injury

    COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 4:  Ryan Murray #27 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the New York Rangers on April 4, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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    Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray had to leave his team’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night with an upper body injury, the team announced.

    He will not return to the game.

    Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, seemed to be injured when his arm was pinned against the boards when trying to finish a check on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook behind the net.

    Murray played only 4:38 on Friday night before exiting the game.

    The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Murray played in 81 games for the Blue Jackets a year ago, scoring four goals to go with 21 assists.

    He had played in one of the Blue Jackets’ two games this season entering Friday and did not record a point.

    Former first round pick Zach Boychuk signs in KHL

    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Zach Boychuk #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes heads back for the puck during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on November 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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    After spending the past eight years moving around the NHL, Zach Boychuk is moving overseas.

    On Friday it was announced that the 27-year-old forward has signed a contract with HC Sibir of the KHL.

    Boychuk was a first-round draft pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008 and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators in his career.

    He did not play in the NHL during the 2015-16 season, spending the year split between the Charlotte Checkers and Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League.

    In 127 NHL games he has scored 12 goals and added 18 assists.

    Boychuk was in camp in September with the Arizona Coyotes on a tryout contract but did not make the team.

    Flyers’ Dale Weise suspended three games

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 15:  Dale Weise #22 of the Philadelphia Flyers during the NHL game against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 15, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Flyers 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    The Philadelphia Flyers are going to be without forward Dale Weise for the next three games as a result of a suspension handed out by the NHL’s department of player safety on Friday evening.

    The league announced that Weise has been suspended due to an illegal check to the head of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer during their game in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

    Weise was not penalized for the hit.

    The incident happened midway through the second period of the Ducks’ 3-2 win, and came just as Holzer was skating with the puck in his own zone.

    Here is a look at the play, as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

    Holzer was not injured as a result of the hit.

    The Flyers have been hit hard by suspensions so far this season. They played the first three games of the season without forward Brayden Schenn as he served a suspension that carried over from the 2016 playoffs. Defenseman Radko Gudas is still sidelined as he serves a six-game suspension for a hit this preseason.

    Weise has yet to record a point in four games for the Flyers this season. He scored 14 goals and added 13 assists a year ago for the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.

    This suspension will cost him $39,166.68 in salary.

    He will be eligible to return to the Flyers’ lineup on Oct. 27 when they host the Arizona Coyotes. He will miss games against Carolina, Montreal and Buffalo.

    Douglas Murray calls it a career


    One of the more unique blueliners in recent memory is hanging up his skates.

    Douglas Murray, the big-bodied Swedish rearguard that appeared in over 500 NHL contests, has decided to retire.

    “Thirty general managers do not want me,” Murray told Alftonbladet (translation per Yahoo). “I know that I can still play, but it’s over now.”

    Murray, 36, is best remembered for his time in San Jose, where he used his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame to become one of the hardest hitters in the league.

    His best years came between 2009-11, when he helped the Sharks advance to a pair of Western Conference Finals, and represented Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

    Murray also spent time with Pittsburgh and Montreal, before joining German League side Kolner Haie in ’14-15. He also had a brief stint with the Calgary Flames, though things never progressed beyond the professional tryout stage.

    As mentioned above, Murray was a pretty interesting guy. A late bloomer, he was 25 upon making his NHL debut but quickly endeared himself to Shark fans.

    Ivy-league educated, Murray and friends also created a beer dispensing system called the UberTap while at Cornell University.

    A few years ago, Murray was rumored to be dating Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of Tiger Woods. Murray later shot down the reports, saying he and Nordegren were just friends.