With tonight's game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals ready to bring the 05-06 National Hockey League season to a close, the league has announced its own fast-breaking two-on-one. The NHL and its Players Association today confirmed that they have both signed nonexclusive, multiyear license renewal agreements with Electronic Arts and 2K Sports. Each publisher now has the rights to produce NHL games for current-gen and next-gen consoles, including systems that haven't yet seen either company lace up the skates, like the PlayStation 3, Wii, and PlayStation Portable.
In December, it was reported that the NHLPA had signed an exclusive deal with EA, only to have the NHL check that idea clear over the boards. At the time, the two sides were coming off a labor dispute that wiped out the entire 04-05 season. However, the league seemed ready to drop the gloves again, as it reportedly refused to sign a licensing deal with EA until 2K Sports was cut into the NHLPA deal. The last time Electronic Arts had published a hockey game with only the NHLPA license was NHLPA Hockey 93. The game attained cult status in the 1996 film Swingers as "the one where you can make Wayne Gretzky's head bleed."
"NHL fans and consumers want more choices and extending our relationships with EA Sports and 2K Sports offers them the ability to choose the quality games they want to play," NHL senior vice president of consumer products marketing Brian Jennings said in a statement.
2K Sports' NHL 2K7 is set for release on the PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox, and PlayStation 2, while EA's NHL 07 will hit the ice later this year for the PSP, Xbox 360, PC, Xbox, and PS2.