PHT remembers video games: NHL Championship 2000, featuring Mike Modano

Every Tuesday, PHT will remember a hockey video game, preferably one less obvious than the “Swingers”-immortalized “NHL 94.” Due to technological limitations (anyone have a SNES or Sega Genesis lying around, along with working cartridges?), many reviews will lean closer to recollections. Either way, hopefully these are fun — and maybe inspire people to scour a flea market or two when it becomes safe to do so.

Let’s take a walk down Unreliable Memory Lane for a moment.

It’s Christmas, probably in 1999, but — if I’m being honest — maybe 2000. As any spoiled hockey fan, I asked for EA Sports’ NHL 2000 for Playstation. Instead, what I got was … NHL Championship 2000?

“What is this strange game with Mike Modano on the cover?” I probably asked myself, while sweeping even-worse-than-quarantined hair from my pimply teenage face. On the outside, there was approval for the gift, but on the inside … grumbles.

And yet … it was good! At least, that’s how I remember it.

[Video games not enough? “Hockey Week in America” might provide your hockey fix.]

To be honest, when a weekly video game review/recollection idea surfaced, I wondered if “That Fox Mike Modano game” was an outright hallucination. After all, life tends to zap memories, even if we’re not all experiencing elaborate flashbacks like “The Dude.”

But, no, the game existed. Hurrah. It’s even available used, with amusing Amazon reviews and all.

Enjoy this shot of the front cover for NHL Championship 2000, via that listing:

NHL Championship 2000 front
via Fox Sports Interactive/Amazon

But it’s really the back cover that could bring back a flood of nostalgia for gaming nerds like me of a certain age:

NHL Championship 2000 back
via Fox Sports Interactive/Amazon

Magically, there’s gameplay footage on Youtube, as you can see in the video embedded above this post’s headline.

NHL Championship 2000 received solid reviews

Yes, it is indeed tempting to mock “Sports Games. FOX Attitude.” Yet, the long-departed Fox Interactive might respond, “Where’s the lie?”

The game incorporated the Fox NHL theme very nicely, including that hockey stick by way of “Spoonman” percussion. Such integration was ahead of its time even then, as modern NHL games continue to aim at TV-like presentation, sometimes with as many missed shots as top-shelf productions.

I must say, after watching some gameplay footage, the game looked surprisingly solid. Primitive video game reviews back that up to a decent degree, too.

This IGN review is jarring at times (“the eloquent Terry Bradshaw” is something you should try to drop into casual conversation), but it backs up my memories that NHL Championship 2000 was surprisingly good. That review also notes a relic of that era: multiple NHL-licensed video games … in the same year.

This is the third hockey game I’ve played for the 2000 season. At one point, I thought nothing would top EA Sports’ NHL 2000, but Fox Sports Interactive has come through in the clutch. My expectations for this game were lower than imaginable. I mean, this is the same company that brought us College Hoops 99, one of the worst games ever developed for the N64. All biases aside, they have undoubtedly created an amazing product for the PS.

As far as I can tell, the NHL Championship series was a one-and-done affair with the 2000 edition. It’s possible that a different NHL game series adapted its engine, but I couldn’t find any information to back that up. (There’s not a ton out there on “Fox Sports Interactive,” in general.)

[Keith Jones isn’t passing his time with video games. Larry David movies, though? You bet.]

Bygone era of multiple licensed NHL video games

These days, video gaming hockey fans don’t have a ton to choose from. EA’s series (most recently NHL 20) can be a little derisive, but I’ve found that it generally crosses some of the boxes. At minimum, it hasn’t been a disaster like, say, pro wrestling video games.

The NHL2K series enjoyed quite the run during the Playstation2/Original Xbox era, but never really countered the NHL series’ institution of “The Skill Stick.” NHL2K11 was the last game in the series, while NHL2K10 was the last one that appeared on contemporary platforms. (NHL 2K11 was on Wii and IOS).

Since then, it’s been EA’s NHL games or something off the beaten path, such as “Super Blood Hockey.”

Perhaps another wave of hockey video games will come that will parallel NHL Championship 2000 and those feelings of “Was there really a game with Mike Modano on the cover?” As it stands, it seems most likely that such times will remain distant memories, like glow pucks.

Hey, some memories are better than others.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

 

League clears up 2020 NHL Playoffs picture, including re-seeding

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The NHL and NHLPA agreed to some key details to how the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will operate … assuming the playoffs can happen. We now know how the league will handle the Round Robin for Seeding, Qualifying Round, all the way to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Before we go round by round, note that the biggest takeaways are that the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will involve re-seeding (not bracketing) and that every round will include a best-of-seven series after the Qualifying Round/Round Robin for Seeding.

In other words, if this all comes to pass, prepare for a lot of hockey.

How the NHL Playoffs will work through 2020 Stanley Cup Final

Let’s review what we know so far.

Qualifying Round; Round Robin for Seeding

  • As announced earlier, each Qualifying Round (four per conference) series will go by a best-of-five format. Read more about that format here.
  • Johnston reports that the Round Robin for Seeding will involve three games each per team. Points percentage will serve as a tiebreaker if needed during the Round Robin for Seeding.

It was first believed that teams who won Qualifying Round series would face specific opponents based on bracketing. Instead, re-seeding means that the highest seeds will face the lowest seeds all the way down to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s how “home ice” will work out, via the NHL:

* In the Qualifying Round, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2 and 5. The lower-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 3 and 4.

2020 NHL Playoffs: First Round through the 2020 Stanley Cup Final

To reiterate, following the Qualifying Round (best-of-five) and Round Robin for Seeding (three games apiece), each series will be a best-of-seven, with re-seeding. It might be easier to see how it flows this way, then:

  • Qualifying Round (best-of-five series, four series per conference); Round Robin for Seeding (three games apiece, top four teams in each conference involved). Re-seeding instead of bracketing.
  • First Round (best-of-seven series, four series per conference). Teams re-seed after First Round.
  • Second Round (best-of-seven series, two series per conference). Teams re-seed after Second Round.
  • 2020 Eastern Conference Final (best-of-seven series) and 2020 Western Conference Final (best-of-seven series).

Via the NHL, here’s how “home-ice” will play out before the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:

* In the First Round, Second Round and Conference Finals, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 3, 4 and 6.

  • 2020 Stanley Cup Final (best-of-seven series).

Finally, the league shared this “home-ice” info for the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:

* In the Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The team with the lower regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team in Games 3, 4 and 6

NHL, NHLPA opt for more hockey approach

Before Thursday, some expected that the First Round, and possibly the Second Round, might instead be best-of-five series. Instead, the NHL and NHLPA opted to go longer.

Johnston captures the risk part of that risk-reward scenario quite well, noting that two extra best-of-seven rounds could add nine days to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that the playoff tournament could last as long as 68 days. That requires some big gambles that COVID-19 cases won’t spike to the point that the NHL needs to go on “pause” once more.

If it all works out, then the “integrity” of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is definitely emphasized. (Also, more best-of-seven series definitely strengthens the “toughest ever” arguments.) Few can credibly say they’ve been robbed of a real chance, given that 24 teams are involved.

We’ll have to wait and see if it’s all worth it, and if the NHL can actually pull this off. Personally, re-seeding seems fair if it doesn’t lead to additional travel, while the bevy best-of-seven series seems dicey.

Naturally, the NHL and NHLPA still need to hash out other details.

MORE ON NHL RETURN TO PLAY:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Penguins player tested positive for COVID-19, now recovered

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The Penguins announced on Thursday that one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the team, the unidentified player “is recovered and feeling well.” Anyone who came into close contact with him has been notified.

So far, nine NHL players have tested positive for COVID-19, including five from the Senators and three from the Avalanche.

It is expected that the NHL will announce its Phase 2 plans this week. That will allow for players to workout in small voluntary groups at team facilities. Training camps are still expected to open in mid-July.

As players get set for Phase 2, the league will have strict screening protocols in place.

“We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test,” said Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

“You need testing at a level sufficient to be confident that you’re going to be on top of anything which might happen,” said NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr. “If that turns out to be daily, and that’s available, that’s OK. That would be good. If it turns out that that’s not quite what we need and we can get by with a little less, that’s OK.”

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Alabama-Huntsville coach steps down one week after program is saved

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A week after a $500,000 fundraising goal was met to save the program, Alabama-Huntsville hockey coach Mike Corbett has resigned.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, with assistant coach Gavin Morgan joining Corbett in leaving the program. Assistant Lance West will take on the role of acting head coach.

“I want to thank all of you for your support and supporting the players during this time,” Corbett wrote in an email to supporters obtained by WZDX. “It meant a lot to me and them. I wish things were different and the results were better, I truly do. I own that. I will not make excuses and I will tell you I came to work everyday and put everything I had into it. Not always making the right decisions, but doing what I thought was right for the program every day. Myself and my staff embraced it and fought the good fight every day. Only we know how that was and it was difficult but continued to put the program and the players first.”

The Chargers were 2-26-6 this past season, the seventh with Corbett in charge.

According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, Corbett faced plenty of obstacles at the school.

According to insiders, Corbett wanted to leave on his own terms. The coach had led the Chargers for seven seasons and dealt with a lot of challenges, from a lack of recruiting money to the loss of a conference when seven WCHA schools announced they would be leaving Alabama-Huntsville and the two Alaska schools behind to form a new CCHA in 2021-22.

On May 22 UAH announced it was cutting its hockey and tennis programs, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters and alumni, including Flames goalie Cam Talbot, backed a fundraising campaign that saw the goal reached before Friday’s deadline. The school then approved a $1.5 million budget for next season.

There is no guarantee beyond 2020-21 that the program will keep playing, but there is now time to create a sustainable, long-term plan.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Golden Knights’ empire; Senators’ youth to lead the way

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Playing games in arenas with no fans could lead to TV networks getting creative covering the NHL’s Return to Play games. [Edmonton Journal]

• On NHL GMs and their reactions to the league’s Return to Play format. [Toronto Star]

• With the announcement of an AHL team coming to Henderson, Nevada, the Golden Knights are building an empire out west. [The Hockey News]

• It’s looking like the Palm Springs AHL team will be called the Firebirds. [SportsLogos.net]

• The Senators’ youth will need to lead the franchise’s revival. [Ottawa Citizen]

• How LTIR can play a role in aiding the Canucks. [Canucks Army]

• On the lessons the Sharks can learn from the last time they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. [NBC Sports Bay Area]

• What a full season in the AHL could do for Habs’ youngster Ryan Poehling. [A Winning Habit]

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.