How will EA Sports choose their NHL 21 cover athlete now that the 2019-2020 NHL season has been postponed by COVID-19? In the past ten years, EA Sports generally chose players from playoff teams, with Connor McDavid and Martin Brodeur being the few exceptions. The NHL 21 cover athlete will need to be the face of the NHL, emerging from the wake of a partially lost season.
Let’s start with the obvious picks: Cole Harbour natives Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby, who seem to be the home-run picks for NHL 21’s cover.
Who else has been the face of the NHL since Sid The Kid’s debut back in 2005? Sidney Crosby is a major omission from cover athlete status, and there is no better time to grace the cover than now. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup Winner, two-time Olympic Gold medalist, eight-time NHL All-Star, former youngest Captain in NHL history, [insert dozens of other awards]. Sidney Crosby is still the face of the NHL.
Now for a name synonymous with this list, Sidney Crosby. The @Penguins captain holds the #2 spot on the #NHL20Top50 and doesn’t appear to want to slow down anytime soon. Crosby continues to dominate with high-level plays on a regular basis. #NHL20 pic.twitter.com/ZLWQ79OFFg
— NHL 20 #stayandplay (@EASPORTSNHL) September 2, 2019
After tearing it up the past three seasons, Nathan MacKinnon has been near the top of the NHL scoring race and has propelled the Colorado Avalanche to be a Top-3 team in the NHL standings. He’s a highlight reel machine and continues to be one of the more marketable athletes in the NHL.
David Pastrnak is a superstar on an Original Six team. That in and of itself can be the argument. You can also add that he’s the 2020 NHL All-Star MVP. Not good enough? He scored 30+ goals in four straight seasons before the age of 23. Want more? He’s not Brad Marchand. If he isn’t gracing the NHL 21 cover, he’ll be the face of the Chel before his career is over.
Alex Ovechkin also comes to mind. If Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane can be the cover athletes twice, Ovi can do the same. He’s tied for the NHL lead in goals (48, tied with Pastrnak), hit 700 career goals this season, and is well within reason to come close, if not pass, Gretzky for the NHL regular season goals record. He also recently starred in ‘The Great One vs. The Great Eight Showcase’ where Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin faced off in a charity NHL 20 series.
— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) April 23, 2020
Here we go: Matthew & Brady Tkachuk. Like it or not, the Tkachuk Brothers are here to stay. Brady and Matthew are among some of the top pests in the NHL, and back their annoying play with elite skill. Suggesting these two are considered NHL 21 cover athletes might make any hockey fan’s head explode, unless they’re fans of the Calgary Flames or Ottawa Senators.
The duo can also join Keith Tkachuk, their father and former NHL All-Star, as cover athletes on an NHL video game. Keith was the cover athlete on NHL Breakaway 98.
Not as high on my list but still worth an honorable mentions, we have Leon Draisaitl, Nikita Kucherov, John Carlson, Elias Pettersson, Roman Josi, Brent Burns and Joe Thornton (Bearded Sharks Edition).
DO IT YOU COWARDS
Put Gritty on there. I mean it.
Gritty is the mascot to end all mascots. There isn’t a more socially relevant character in all of world to describe the current bizarre global timeline we all find ourselves in. With no reasonable relation to hockey aside from a helmet and a Flyers jersey, Gritty transcends sports and pop culture; making him the perfect spokesperson and cover “athlete” to introduce new fans to the sport of hockey and CHEL.
How much longer can we deny the strongest media presence the NHL has ever seen? Give the world what it wants: more Gritty!