EA Sports unveils the first three legends for NHL ’12: Gretzky, Chelios and Bourque


If you don’t already know by now, EA Sports’ NHL ’12 will feature a collection of retired hockey legends in its Legends Mode. In that last post, we speculated about which legends might be incorporated in the game, but those were just educated guesses. EA made three of those nine players official through a Games Trailer video late last night: Wayne Gretzky, Chris Chelios and Ray Bourque.

To start off the clip, you can see Gretzky working in his “office.” (Which was one of the things I hoped to see when that initial legends trailer was released. Nice job, EA.) The interesting part is that he was setting up a goal for Taylor Hall instead of, say, Jari Kurri. That indicates a few things: the game probably won’t have classic teams – an understandable bummer – and it also shows that legends will be available for use with all 30 NHL teams. (They’ll also be available in the game’s HUT mode, though one could imagine them being harder to come by.)

Moving on, the clip also showed Bourque and Chelios in action. Close-ups of Chelios and Gretzky make it clear that EA went to great lengths to capture the look of each player and the “office” footage shows that there was at least some attention paid to their styles and quirks. Here’s that video in question.

Of course, the question EA wants you to ask is: which other six players will be in the game?

There are various hints that indicate Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe will likely be included in the game. (The shape of the silhouettes gives away the presence of a goalie and a few players who aren’t wearing helmets. Sadly, Craig MacTavish probably won’t be one of those players.)

Doug Miller of Kukla’s Korner does a solid job of breaking down the remaining candidates for the last two spots (assuming that the first seven are correct, of course).

So with that, here is my short list of more “modern” forwards, along with likely team, who might grab one of those final two spots…

– Mark Messier (New York Rangers)
– Joe Sakic (Colorado Avalanche)
– Steve Yzerman (Detroit Red Wings)
– Mike Bossy (New York Islanders)

Taking the “helmet” issue into account, here are some old school alternatives, of which there could only be one included, assuming I’m right about Howe and Orr…

– Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadians)
– Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks)
– Maurice Richard (Montreal Canadians)
– Bobby Clarke (Philadelphia Flyers)

Woof, it’s pretty tough to narrow that list down to just two more players, isn’t it? If I had to narrow the list down a little bit, I’d say that one of the spots could come down to Yzerman or Messier while the other might come down to Hull or Richard. Again, that’s a complete guess, though.

Which nine legends would you like to see in the game? Personally, I’m a little bummed out that Dominik Hasek probably won’t be involved, especially since video game technology has come far enough to accurately mimic the Slinky-spine movements that made him so fun to watch. As they say in sports and sports video games, there’s always next year.

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

Garett Sparks
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We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

“He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.