No need to play the 2014-15 season, National Hockey League. Yes, that may cut into the $4 billion in revenues you’re expected to generate, but think of the cost savings for teams that lose money.
Really, why actually play a season when a simulated NHL season has already been played, the Stanley Cup has been awarded and all the awards winners have already been determined? That’s what EA Sports, creators of the NHL 15 video game, have done. And they’ve determined that the Los Angeles Kings will become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98.
Uh, there’s just one glitch here. When EA Sports sent out its promotional material for its simulated season, it had the Boston Bruins winning the Eastern Conference over the Columbus Blue Jackets, which will do absolutely nothing to enhance the bargaining power for Ryan Johansen. EA Sports has the Bruins getting to the conference final by first defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round in seven games. No word on whether the Maple Leafs will take a three-goal lead into the last 10 minutes of Game 7, then lose in overtime. What? Too soon?
The Bruins are then pegged to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in four straight games to advance to the conference final. The only problem with the NHL’s playoff format would make a second-round series between the Bruins and Flyers an impossibility. Under the EA Sports simulated season, Columbus would be the first wild card team and Toronto would be the second.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens would finish in second and third, respectively, in the Atlantic Division and the New York Rangers and Flyers would be the second and third seeds in the Metropolitan.
So the first-round series would be: Boston-Toronto; Pittsburgh-Columbus; Rangers-Philadelphia and Tampa Bay-Montreal. If the winners of those series were Boston, Columbus, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, the Bruins would actually play the Lightning in the second round, not the Flyers. The Blue Jackets, conversely, would play the Flyers, not Tampa Bay, in Round 2.
According to the public relations manager at EA Sports, human error is responsible for this. She said when the company put out its promotional material, the wrong screen shot was used for the playoffs and in the actual simulation, the teams that were supposed to play each other did indeed do virtual battle on the ice.
“We thought we had caught that before it went out,” said Shirley Chu. “We used an old asset and it’s the wrong screen shot. We’ll be correcting that, but it still doesn’t affect the outcome of the season.”
That all sounds a little too much like the old, “The dog at my homework,” excuse, but we’ll take their word for it.
Among its other predictions: Anze Kopitar will win both the Selke and Conn Smythe Trophies, making him the second player in league history after Bob Gainey in 1979 to take the Selke-Smythe combination. Sidney Crosby will win the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and the Ted Lindsay Award, which isn’t so far out of the box. It also predicts he’ll outscore both Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin to win the Rocket Richard. The Calgary Flames will finish 30th overall and have the best chance to land Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, unless team president Brian Burke insists GM Brad Treliving trades the pick to acquire more pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.
TALKS BACK ON, BUT LITTLE CHANGE Speaking of the Blue Jackets, the team has insisted that a broken hand to Boone Jenner and a back injury to Nathan Horton will not force them into giving in to Ryan Johansen’s contract demands. Perhaps they are buoyed by the fact that last season, they went 6-10-3 in their first 19 games without Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton and still managed to make the playoffs. Johansen’s output in those games? A rather pedestrian 5-6-11, while being held pointless in 12 of the 19 games.
Meanwhile, it’s probably not a good idea for Blue Jackets fans to get too excited about the fact that dialogue is again ongoing between the team and Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt. I’ve been told that talks are cordial, but have not been terribly productive to this point. Neither side seems too willing to bend on its demands and the gap remains cavernous. Each side has made a “glacial” movement off its position, according to a source.