EA Sports' NHL cover: Is it cursed?

Sure, there's this little matter of a playoff game tonight (and I'm sure most of you are as nervous and excited as I am), so let's break from the tension for a bit and discuss the NHL 13 Cover Vote taking place now.

Today is the final day of preliminary voting as David Legwand and Pekka Rinne are the two Preds nominees in the voting process. Thirty-two players go into the next round (30 winners plus the two next highest vote-getters)

(Update: Rinne advanced to the Round of 32 after first-round voting concluded Wednesday night. Second-round voting takes place through April 22.)

By now, anybody who knows anything about video games is aware of the Madden Curse. Cover athletes who have graced the cover of the Madden NFL series have either suffered poor performance, injury, or a combination of both the following season.

Is there such a curse for the NHL cover? I went back to 1996 (the first year one player was "featured" on the cover) to examine both their individual campaigns the following year and their team's fortune. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 meaning someone had a voodoo doll for their every move), I rated their "curse factor" on both criteria, giving more credence to the individual player's production (roughly a 2/3 split).

After the jump, I'll breakdown the players who have shown up on the cover of the EA Sports' NHL series:



John Vanbiesbrouck - Goalie, Florida Panthers (1996 - NHL 97):27-29-10, 2.29 GAA, .919 SV%, 2 SO

Panthers made playoffs, lost in 1st round (NY Rangers, five games)

Beezer was (and still is) the only goalie to appear on the cover. During the 1996-97 season, he was elected by the fans to the All-Star Game as the starting goaltender. By season's end, Vanbiesbrouck finished in the top 10 in the NHL for save percentage (6th), GAA (5th) and tied for 11th in wins (27). Curse factor: 2

Peter Forsberg - Center, Colorado Avalanche (1997 - NHL 98): 72 GP, 25 G, 58 A, 86 P

Avalanche made playoffs, lost in 1st round (2-7 upset by Edmonton, seven games)

Being on the cover didn't affect Forsberg too much. Despite missing 10 games, he continued to be a more than point-per-game producer. Curse factor: 3

Eric Lindros - Center, Philadelphia Flyers (1998 - NHL 99): 71 GP, 40 G, 53 A, 93 P

Flyers made playoffs, lost in 1st round (Toronto, six games), but Lindros did not play due to an injury that he actually suffered in Nashville:

(From Wikipedia: During an April 1, 1999 game against the Nashville Predators, Lindros suffered what was diagnosed as a rib injury. Later that night, the teammate he was sharing a hotel room with, Keith Jones, discovered Lindros lying in a tub, pale and cold. In a call to the Flyers, the trainer was told to put Lindros on a plane that was returning to Philadelphia with injured teammate Mark Recchi. But Jones insisted that Lindros be taken to a nearby hospital and it was discovered Lindros had a collapsed lung caused by internal bleeding of his chest wall. Lindros' father wrote the Flyers a letter in which he stated that if the trainer had followed team orders, Eric would be dead, a statement supported by the doctors who treated him in Nashville.) Curse factor: 4 (would be higher, but Jonesey pretty much saved his life, so that negates any such increase.)

Chris Pronger - Defense, St. Louis Blues (1999 - NHL 2000): 79 GP, 14 G, 48 A, 62 P

Blues made playoffs, lost in 1st round (victim of a 1-8 upset by San Jose)

In 1999-2000, Pronger recorded a career-high 62 points and a +52 rating. His efforts culminated in a Norris and Hart Trophy at the end of the season. Curse factor: 4 (President's Trophy curse reared its ugly head here, Pronger himself was beyond excellent.)

Owen Nolan - Right Wing, San Jose Sharks (2000 - NHL 2001): 57 GP, 24 G, 25 A, 49 A

Sharks made playoffs, lost in 1st round (St. Louis, six games)

Nolan suffered through some injuries in the 2000-01 campaign but remained fairly productive. Curse factor: 5

Mario Lemieux - Center, Pittsburgh Penguins (2001 - NHL 2002): 24 GP, 6 G, 25 A, 31 P

Penguins did not make playoffs (12th in East)

Lemieux only appeared in 24 games, partially due to injuries that would also plague him for the next three seasons. He also skipped some Penguins games in 2001-02 so he could be in condition to play what would be his only chance at the Olympics in his career. Curse factor: 7

Jerome Iginla - Right Wing, Calgary Flames (2002 - NHL 2003): 75 GP, 35 G, 32 A, 67 P

Flames did not make playoffs (12th in West)

Injuries, including a lingering finger dislocation following a fight, diminished his play in the 02-03 season. His 35 goals were still enough to lead the Flames for the fourth time in five seasons. Curse factor: 5

Dany Heatley - Left Wing, Atlanta Thrashers (2003 - NHL 2004): 31 GP, 13 G, 12 A, 25 P

Heatley was pulled off the cover following the car accident that claimed the life of teammate Dan Snyder. Curse factor: 10

Joe Sakic - Center, Colorado Avalanche (NHL 2004): 81 GP, 33 G, 54 A, 87 P

Avalanche made playoffs, lost in 2nd round (Beat Dallas in five, lost to San Jose in six)

After replacing Heatley on the cover, Sakic was the first of the "chosen" players to advance past the first round of the postseason. Curse factor: 1

Markus Naslund - Left Wing, Vancouver Canucks (2004 - NHL 2005)

Stats depend on how you played NHL 2005, because that was the only NHL hockey played during the lost season. Cursed? Everybody was that year. Curse factor: 10

Vincent Lecavalier - Center, Tampa Bay Lightning (2005 - NHL 06): 80 GP, 35 G, 40 A, 75 P

Lightning made playoffs, lost in 1st round (Ottawa, five games)

Side note on Lecavalier: He is featured in The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story. Lecavalier portrayed legendary Montréal Canadiens center Jean Béliveau. Curse factor: 2

Alex Ovechkin - Center, Washington Capitals (2006 - NHL 07): 82 GP, 46 G, 46 A, 92 P

Capitals did not make playoffs (14th in East)

Although the Caps struggled, Ovi put up a 90-point campaign and made his first All-Star campaign. Curse factor: 2

Eric Staal - Center, Carolina Hurricanes (2007 - NHL 08): 82 GP 38 G, 44 A, 82 P

Hurricanes did not make playoffs (9th in East)

Staal was a point-per-game producer, but his Canes were edged out for a postseason berth by two points. Curse factor: 1

Dion Phaneuf - Defense, Calgary Flames (2008 - NHL 09): 80 GP, 11 G, 36 A, 47 P

Flames made playoffs, lost in 1st round (Chicago, six games)

Phaneuf won the Norris Trophy in 2008, leading him to the cover. But he recorded a then-career low 11 goals and 47 points, with a poor plus/minus of -11 which led some to question his defensive commitment. He also battled a hip injury during the season. Curse factor: 9

Patrick Kane - Center/Right Wing, Chicago Blackhawks (2009 - NHL 10): 82 GP, 30 G, 58 A, 88 P

Blackhawks won Stanley Cup

Kane scored the OT winner to clinch the Cup. No curse here, unless you drove a cab in Buffalo. (Sorry, but it happened after it was announced Kane would be on the cover.) Curse factor: 0 (Cab driver: 10)

Jonathan Toews - Center, Chicago Blackhawks (2010 - NHL 11): 80 GP, 32 G, 44 A, 76 P

Blackhawks made playoffs, lost in 1st round (Vancouver, seven games)

Chicago barely snuck in the playoffs the year after claiming the Cup, then fell behind Vancouver three games to none before forcing, then losing, a seventh game. Curse factor: 3



Steven Stamkos - Center, Tampa Bay Lightning (2011 - NHL 12): 82 GP, 60 G, 37 A, 97 P

Lightning did not make playoffs (10th in East)

Can't blame Stammer for Tampa's woes. He'll pick up the Rocket Richard Trophy after a 60-goal campaign. Curse factor: 1

So what did we learn here? If there's a curse to being on the NHL cover, I can't find it. There were some who didn't fare well (Lemieux, Phaneuf) following their inclusions, but overall, no real downside to gracing the front of the game itself.

So go to the EA Sports website and vote for either Leggy or Rinne and get them into the next round!

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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