NHL 09 Launch Event Recap

The promise of an appearance by six NHL players is enough to get Canadian media to stand up and take notice, and the launch of EA Sports' NHL 09 was all it took to get me up to 8-Rinks hockey facility in Burnaby--not far from the campus of EA Canada. The hockey players on hand--Jeremy Roenick...

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The promise of an appearance by six NHL players is enough to get Canadian media to stand up and take notice, and the launch of EA Sports' NHL 09 was all it took to get me up to 8-Rinks hockey facility in Burnaby--not far from the campus of EA Canada. The hockey players on hand--Jeremy Roenick (San Jose Sharks), Patrick O'Sullivan (Los Angeles Kings), Drew Doughty (Kings), Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks), Josh Harding (Minnesota Wild), and NHL 09 cover athlete Dion Phaneuf (Calgary Flames)--all took part in a motion capture session set up to record moves from all the players for use in next year's NHL game (including a great fake fight between Phaneuf and Roenick that put JR on his back twice).

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Calgary's Dion Phaneuf gets decked out in mo-cap gear.

After the mo-cap everyone headed back to EA Canada to get some time in the game. While some of the players looked like your typical pro athlete playing a videogame (i.e. slightly lost), the Los Angeles Kings' Drew Doughty was putting on a clinic. Whether schooling the Penguins with the Kings in the single-player game or putting Corey Perry through the wringer as with San Jose Sharks, Doughty was most definitely the MVP of the day. Not only did he execute deadly looking off-puck movements with ease, but I saw him lift the stick of a defender in order to make him miss a pass. Hell, he even nailed a drop pass that almost resulted in the sweetest of goals.

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Phaneuf (right) and Jeremy Roenick "duke it out" in front of the cameras.

As for the fight between JR and Dion that I mentioned earlier, the staged punch-fest was being captured for use in next year's game and, if the mo-cap is to be believed, a revamped fighting engine seems to be in the plans for next year's NHL game from EA Sports. All I can say is, it's about time.

(By the way, while up at EAC, I also got an exclusive hands-on preview of FIFA 09's 10-versus-10 online team play, which is a lot of fun. You can read the article here.)

More pictures from the NHL 09 Launch Event below:

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JR and Dion Phaneuf share a moment.

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Corey Perry blasts a shot at the net.

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Drew Doughty's got NHL skills on and off the ice.

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