EA Sports’ NHL 14 cover voting is gloriously weird

I want to live in a world where Lee Stempniak is the cover athlete for EA Sports’ NHL 14, for the sheer looks of befuddlement that consumers would wear on their faces if they were oblivious to online voting. It’s like the first time you see Henry Cavill as Superman: That journey from “WHO?!” to “well, at least he fits the suit.”

Stempniak of the Calgary Flames is a candidate for the NHL 14 cover in that series’ latest online election. As we mentioned last week, so is Brandon Yip of the Nashville Predators. Ditto Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers, Teddy Purcell of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Matt Beleskey of the Anaheim Ducks.

Which is sort of like having a bunch of third option wide receivers vying for the cover of Madden.

EA Sports had its share of creative candidates for last year’s cover vote, although many of the lesser ones were rookies. (Matt Stajan being the exception.) But this season’s has a decidedly different … how to put it … Vote For Rory-ish vibe.

One reason for the random candidates like Hagelin and Purcell from star-studded teams: Licensing. EA Sports licenses the players’ names and likenesses from the NHLPA for use in its game. The cover voting is something separate from that agreement. Perhaps that factors into some of the names being promoted in this year’s “tournament.”

As Kotaku wrote in its Madden piece in February:

"For now, these are my best guesses at the potential all-time great and modern candidates for each of the National Football League's clubs. While an established relationship with EA Sports, and visibility at an offensive skill position (running back, quarterback or wide receiver) counts for a lot, remember that EA Sports has been willing in years past to put names on its cover-vote bracket without yet having an agreement in place for their appearance. That leaves open the possibility for some wild card candidates."

Or maybe EA Sports just wants the word to get behind Brandon Yip for its cover.

Coming up, the 60 players in the field for the EA Sports NHL 14 cover.

Via EA Sports:

Our picks? Pavel Datsyuk as the sentimental choice and, hence, likely winner. And Brandon Yip as the why-the-hell-not candidate, powered by engaged Preds fans.