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Ways to improve the EA Sports NHL franchise

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We’ll need more than the Konami Code to improve the current hockey sim.

2019 NHL Awards Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

This week, PensBurgh is diving into the world of video games. And with a blog devoted to the Pittsburgh Penguins, today’s article will be devoted to one of my most-played video game franchises: the EA Sports NHL series.

I am a massive gamer, and I’ve been playing EA’s yearly hockey game for a long time now. With that said, I have some suggestions that myself and many other players have been clamoring for since this current console generation started some six years ago.

Shareable Rosters

EA’s sporadic roster updates throughout the NHL’s regular season are what we have to play with each and every year. However, with the ability to share and download community-made rosters, much like in EA’s other big title, the Madden NFL series, the players could have up-to-the-minute rosters with the most authentic roster transactions. Add in the ability to have custom draft classes for franchise mode, another feature seen in Madden, and NHL gamers wouldn’t have to deal with some of the absurd, automatically-generated rookies like “Igor Malkin” or “Sam Ovechkin.”

Practice Mode in EASHL

EA Sports Hockey League is the competitive online mode where you and your buddies can get together, either in 3v3 or 5v5 action, to play against other clubs around the world. And while the game mode is filled with all sorts of customization options for players, one feature that isn’t in the game (yet) is a practice mode for your squad. So, the only way to hone your skills is to play real, meaningful games that have an impact on your club standing and determine whether you get relegated or promoted to another division.

The ability to go on a practice rink and work on team chemistry, power-play setups, goalie skills, and everything else in between would be a massive improvement to the mode before you and your club step out onto the ice for real competition.

GM Connected

Longtime NHL gamers who enjoy franchise mode have been without their beloved online equivalent for years. The last time GM Connected mode was in an NHL title was NHL 15, and it was only available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, right when the Xbox One and PS4 were getting ready to launch. Fans have gone an entire console generation without the ability to play with their friends in a franchise setting to see who could hoist the Stanley Cup and become a legendary general manager in the process.

Go on any NHL video game message board and I guarantee one of the first posts will be about GM Connected and its long-awaited return to the series.

With the PS5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon, the time has come to reinsert this mode so I can sweep my friend in the Stanley Cup Final and bask in the glory of winning a virtual trophy.

Bonus Suggestion: Port the Game to PC

Do you want to know when the last time an NHL game was playable on PC? NHL 09. Calgary Flames superstar Dion Phaneuf was the cover athlete of that year’s game. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Since then, the game has only been playable on Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Follow in the footsteps of the Madden franchise and tap into a population of gamers who have been chomping at the bit to play NHL hockey on their computers with sleek, new graphics cards, massive processing power, and so much more.

These are just one player’s opinions and I would love to hear what others who play the NHL titles have to say regarding these improvements in the comments below!