PHT Morning Skate: Saying goodbye to Nassau Coliseum, plus the making of NHL ’94


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.’s Sunday Long Reads series continues with a look at the New York Islanders’ final season at Nassau Coliseum. (

Want another lengthy, interesting look at a piece of hockey history? This is some great stuff on the making of the classic hockey video game NHL ’94, and really the origins of EA Sports’ beloved series in general. (Read Only Memory)

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $25,000 league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts Monday at 7:00pm ET. Play Now!

Maybe these NHL rivalries are really working out, huh? (The Hockey News)

The Edmonton Oilers signed Kyle Platzer to an entry-level contract. Apparently he has some golf-course prowess to go with his hockey skills.

Quite an interesting moment as a goalie doesn’t realize a shootout attempt begins, yet makes the save anyway. Click here for the story behind it.

Rebuild mode: Critics batter EA Sports’ NHL 15


It’s been two weeks since the North American release of EA Sports’ NHL 15 video game, so this seems like a fair time to take a look at how the title has been received. Considering the cacophony about the many missing features in the Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions of the game, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that critics gave the title a bit of a face-wash.

Metacritic – a review aggregation site that’s basically the video game equivalent to Rotten Tomatoes – averaged the scores for NHL 15 across the two next-gen platforms (all out of 100):

Playstation 4 – 60

Xbox One 61

Most publications didn’t fully review the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions of NHL 15, but the word of mouth on those titles have been harsh as well, prompting dreaded “just a glorified roster update” quips.

Here’s a smattering of excerpts from reviews of the game on Playstation 4 and Xbox One (note: the two versions are virtually identical):

IGN (70 out of 100):

It plays extremely well, whether online or offline, proving why EA Sports’ long-running series has been the king of the ice for over 20 years. But there needs to be a reason to keep playing, and it’s there that NHL 15 falls short and feels somewhat vacant.

Game Informer (5.5 out of 10):

With the startling amount of missing content, kneecapped modes, and uneven gameplay in NHL 15, either EA Sports isn’t giving EA Canada the same level of resources as its other sports franchises or the development team is woefully incapable of negotiating a console transition. If the publisher doesn’t care to put a winning effort into its NHL series, hockey fans have no reason to jump over the boards and buy the game. 

EGM (7 out of 10):

It feels like so much time and focus went into getting the graphics and physics systems up to snuff for new-gen that EA Canada forgot about the rest of the game. At the very least, there’s hope, though. Now that the transition’s been made—however painfully—next year’s title can bring NHL back to its former glory.

As flawed as video game review processes can be, these must be pretty tough scores for EA Sports to swallow. When you consider the fact that developers may lose significant chunks of money for review scores averaging in the high-70’s and the NHL series’ history as a well-reviewed sports title, these reactions are disturbing.

(Sports video games probably get a little more leeway in these situations than something like “Destiny,” but one can assume it still stings quite a bit.)

It’s unclear how much the controversies are hurting EA in the “wallet,” however. Sales goals are pretty difficult to suss out when you ponder the fact that a) the NHL series is a “niche” title compared to FIFA and Madden and b) the jump to new consoles can be messy even when things go well.

The title is getting content updates that might soothe some wounds, even if some modes are unlikely to come until future releases come out.

On the bright side, more than a few reviews essentially argued that the title has a strong foundation … it just sounds like the series is now in something of a “rebuild mode.”

(Screen shot via EA.)

Will future tweaks be enough to salvage NHL 15?


When a sports video game series makes the leap to more powerful consoles, it’s common for some features to be missing. Even so, an Operation Sports post laying out the sometimes-glaring omissions expected from NHL 15 created an uproar among fans of the game, especially since EA Sports’ NHL series took a year longer than other titles (like NBA Live, FIFA and Madden) to make the Xbox One/Playstation 4 jump.

EA Sports took a step to try to quell some of that controversy with a post in its forums on Monday, a day before the video game is set to release in North America.

There are plenty of bigger-picture questions stemming from this situation. Will patched updates be enough for fans? Should people wait to see if the changes are substantial enough? Is the game worth the money even without features many came to expect?

Addressing some issues

Series producer Sean Ramjagsingh detailed that the following changes are expected to be patched into the game after it ships (with some notes from PHT in parenthesis):

Note: some of this stuff is highly specific, so people who don’t play the game might be lost here.

September planned updates

  • There will be a “playoff mode” in which users can set up a tournament with up to 16 teams from any of the available leagues in the game.
  • Three Stars of the Game will be added (yes, that’s a strange omission).
  • Be a Pro coaches feedback will be added. (Many are still up in arms about being unable to simulate between shifts in one of the game’s most popular modes.)
  • Tweaks to the Hockey Ultimate Team Mode.

October planned updates

  • Online Team Play will be back, though it sounds like it can only be 5-on-5 (rather than 6-on-6) and it doesn’t sound like the popular EA Sports Hockey League will be included (at least there’s no announcement of that yet).
  • “GM Draft” tweaks the previous NHL Draft setup so that you face a limited amount of time to make picks and trade offers come in real-time.

(Click here for Ramjagsingh’s full descriptions, as those bullet points were simplified.)

So, that forum post does lay out some useful tweaks, but just check this daunting list of missing features from Operation Sports:


  • No GM Connected
  • No Online Team Play (when this is patched into the game later this year, it will use real NHL players and teams)
  • No EA Sports Hockey League
  • No EA Sports Arena
  • No Online Shootouts
  • No Live the Life
  • No Be A Legend
  • No Winter Classic
  • No tournaments or Battle for the Cup
  • No season mode (you can only play seasons in Be A GM, which is limited to NHL teams)
  • No NHL 94 Anniversary mode
  • No custom music support
  • No create-a-play designer
  • Cannot customize each team’s AI
  • No create-a-team
  • No way to edit individual players
  • Practice mode is now limited to one skater vs. an AI goalie


  • No custom camera option
  • No Action Tracker replay highlights
  • No Top 3 Stars at the end of games.


  • Yearly draft is fully automated by the CPU
  • Cannot play the AHL games for your chosen franchise
  • Players sent down to the minors do not accumulate any season stats
  • No fantasy draft option
  • No preseason games

Be A Pro

  • No option to sim ahead to the next shift
  • You only play in the NHL; you cannot play for minor league teams
  • The Memorial Cup tryout period is gone. You now begin by picking an NHL team, or by letting a random CPU team draft you.
  • No All-Star game

Ultimate Team

  • Cannot play against your friends
  • No tournaments
  • No mobile app

As you can see above, there are some fixes, but that’s still a list that will give many pause (some are even stating that they’ve canceled their pre-ordered copies of the game).

That’s a lot to digest, but what are your thoughts on NHL 15 hours from its release? Are any of these missing features deal-breakers? Will you buy it right away, wait a few months, skip this edition or even disavow the series out of principle? Do tell.

(Image via EA Sports.)

Video: EA reveals some actual gameplay from NHL 15


EA Sports is doing a nice job of allowing a slow trickle of information and videos to come out about NHL 15 – people might debate Sidney Crosby standing clearly alone atop the ratings mountain for a day or two, for instance – but more than a few people wonder if there will be significant advancements as the series debuts on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

The video game company will release a demo to give fans a real taste of the action on Aug. 26, but for those who are dying to see the title in action (as in, not just gussied up videos that don’t show actual in-game events), there are now two clips that give a solid taste:

Note: It’s unclear which version of the game these videos were taken from.

The most obvious differences come in the pre-game video presentations that feature scenic shots and commentary from NBC’s Doc Emrick and Ed Olczyk. (It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a good variety of material before contests or if it repeats quickly, for one. Also, does Doc ratchet up the “Score” a few notches when the goals come at bigger moments? Lots of questions there, but it’s nice to hear new commentary after a long run with Gary Thorne and Bill Clement …)

The gameplay improvements seem like more of an evolutionary step than a giant leap, but that’s also without actually playing anything. Did those videos affect your interest in buying the game when it launches?

(H/T to The Hockey News’ Post to Post. Screen via EA.)

Video: EA shares NHL ’15 trailer, release date


While the hockey world is fixated on the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, video game enthusiasts bask in the hype of the E3 2014. That event featured the unveiling of a trailer for “NHL 15,” EA Sports’ jump to the Xbox One and Playstation 4 in the latest iteration of the series.

Beyond the fantastic song and some dramatic staging, the biggest takeaway is just how smooth everything looks:

“NHL 15” will release in North America on Sept. 9 and Europe on Sept. 14. Along with being on those next-generation consoles, the game will also release on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It will roll out some new features, including “authentic arenas.”

The game’s cover star will be unveiled at the 2014 NHL Awards.