nhl12screenshot

Screenshot indicates that EA Sports’ NHL 12 will include Winter Classic

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While EA Sports’ NHL ’11 was the only big hockey video game on the market – at least on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360* – its quality didn’t suffer from that lack of competition. Simply put, the game gave hockey fans just about everything they could ask for … but there were a few things it did lack.

One of those “How did they leave that out?” features was a mode that allows players to simulate the Winter Classic experience. While EA Sports didn’t come right out and say it, the screenshot you see above says it all: NHL ’12 will include the annual outdoor event in some form.

They didn’t reveal many specific details about how the Winter Classic will be utilized in the game itself, though.

For one thing, it’s natural to ask if the game will strive to use authentic Winter Classic locations. Video game Web site Kotaku tackled that subject a bit, explaining that EA probably wouldn’t be able to use baseball ballparks in the game since 2K Sports owns the licensing rights thanks to their MLB series.

That could prohibit NHL ’12 from using Wrigley Park and Fenway Park, the locales for the 2009 and 2010 Winter Classic games. The 2011 game featured the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins took place at Heinz Field, but reports indicate that the 2012 edition will take place at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, so it’ll be interesting to see how that might be handled.

Kotaku also points out some other interesting details revealed from that screenshot, via the Operation Sports comments.

Other details of the frame, per the hawkeyes from Operation Sports: The net can be jarred from its moorings; realistic goalie contact, and goalie helmets flying off. Anyone see anything else?

However those specific stadium/ballpark details are worked out, the ability to re-play Winter Classic games (and perhaps create your own?) should be a nice thrill for hockey fans. Click here for a ridiculously blown up copy of that screenshot from Operation Sports, if you want to pick apart every tantalizing detail (look a the snow!).

Kotaku discussed other rumors, including a rumor that the game’s ship date that would be “closer to NHL opening day.” Normally sports video games are released about a month before a given season begins, but that trend might end with the next Madden game and the NHL series could follow suit. Personally, that later ship date would be bum many people out since those video games are often a nice outlet for fans who miss their sport badly.

Still, if it makes the game just a little bit better, then the wait could be worth it. Kotaku indicates that more details could emerge next week, so we’ll let you know more when extra information drops.

* Other platforms, particularly the Nintendo Wii, had their own different hockey-related titles.

Kings place Ehrhoff on waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Los Angeles Kings head for the piuck during the first period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.

In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.

The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.

Report: Kadri’s throat-slashing gesture being reviewed by NHL

Nazem Kadri
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Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.

The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.

The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

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After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

‘Very upset’ Jokinen blasts NHL’s handling of Abdelkader-Barkov hit

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You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.

“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”

Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.

Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.

It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.

But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.

Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.

“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”

Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.