Ryan Kesler on 2K Hockey’s comeback and being an Anaheim Duck

Ryan Kesler was in his second year in the NHL when he hooked up with the designers of “2K Hockey.” He was a gamer himself, and they made the kind of sports games he dug: User friendly, with the fun factor trumping ‘down-to-the-ice-molecule’ realism.

So when 2K announced that its hockey game was returning after a four-year hiatus, this time just to mobile devices, Kesler had one primary request:

Include the 3-on-3 Mini-Rink mode.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Kesler, an advocate of 3-on-3 overtime in the NHL, too – or really any variation of player vs. player that doesn’t involve a shootout. “I once played a 1-on-1 overtime in a championship game final.”

That said, the shootout can be fun in the right setting. That setting being a video game.

The new “NHL 2K” game, available for iOS and Android devices soon, has a shootout mode that Kesler likens to a hockey version of “Words With Friends.” You shoot three times, and then your opponent takes their shootout attempts at their leisure. Could be minutes after, could be days.

There’s a “My Career” mode like with 2K’s console games and other features. It was due to be released this week, but was pulled back at the last minute for further tweaking. Its release date is to be determined.

Here's a look at the game; please disregard the release date.

Kesler of all people knows that timing is everything. Last summer, it was time for a fresh start and time for a new team. And for the first time in his NHL career, Kesler enters a season without wearing a Vancouver Canucks sweater.

He maintains his trade to the Anaheim Ducks was a mutual agreement between himself and the Canucks’ management. But Kesler admits that his desire to leave Vancouver, and frustration with his situation, affected his enjoyment of hockey in general.

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“I needed a change in scenery to get some of that passion back,” he said.

That new scenery? A house 10 minutes from the beach with a view of the Pacific Ocean, falling asleep hearing the waves crash.

That new scenery? A Ducks locker room that Kesler calls one of the closest he’s been a part of, that makes him feel as if he’s skated for Anaheim for year -- even if he had some heat with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry during the Ducks and Canucks rivalries.

“That’s in the past now,” Kesler said.

That new scenery? Having Bruce Boudreau as a head coach, which is something Kesler has enjoyed greatly so far.

“He makes you feel like he cares about you. Every day, he’s asking about how your night was, things like that,” said Kesler.

No one’s sure how Kesler will mesh with the Ducks – he’s skating on a line with Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano currently – but one gets the feeling with this fresh start, his hockey enjoyment won’t be limited to the mobile game on his iPad this season.