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kingraph article on '94

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Do some work dude. :)

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Many believe the 1992-93 NHL season was among the finest staged in the League's
history. From the addition of two teams through expansion, to the sudden
prominence of European players, to the heroics of Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux,
to the crowning of Montreal as Stanley Cup champions, the season was full of
memorable moments. On its 20th anniversary, will spend the year looking
back at the key moments of that '92-93 season to see if it may indeed be the
NHL's Greatest Season.

In an NHL career that spanned 20 years,
Jeremy Roenick
played in nine All-Star Games, scored more than 500 goals, registered more than
1,200 points, won an Olympic silver medal and established himself as one of the
most colorful characters in hockey history.

But for many of his biggest fans, JR's
greatest achievements did not take place on an actual sheet of ice.

That's because the 2010 inductee into
the United States Hockey Hall of Fame is also one of the most dominating
video-game characters of all time, thanks mostly to the skills demonstrated by
his avatar in EA Sports' NHL '94.

The classic game was released 20 years
ago this month and introduced countless people to hockey through their Nintendo
and Sega consoles.

It also
helped make Roenick a star.

"It's the No. 1 comment that is
made to me over the course of every day, whether it's over Twitter or meeting
on the street. Whatever the case may be, I would say one out of three people I
meet mention '94 Sega," Roenick told "They say one of three
things: One, 'You couldn't beat the Chicago
[in the game] because of Jeremy Roenick.' No. 2,
'I got through college playing Jeremy Roenick in '94
Sega.' The third is it was a rule that you couldn't be the Chicago Blackhawks in the game, because
they were that unstoppable.

"That still happens almost

NHL '94 is remembered primarily for
Roenick's virtual exploits, not to mention a legendary scene in the 1996 movie
"Swingers," although the film's characters actually played the
predecessor, NHLPA Hockey '93. That also was a revolutionary game that earned
its place in history. After the previous year's iteration from Electronic Arts
included an NHLPA license but no NHL team licenses, NHL '94 was the first
hockey title to include entire player rosters as well as all NHL team names and
logos. The innovations didn't end there.

"They wanted some hockey realism.
I had this list of features they wanted to add to the series," said Mark
Lesser, the lead developer for the game who previously worked on EA's Madden
NFL series and by his own admission didn't know a thing about hockey.
"Goalie control was one of them. They wanted a shootout game in it. They
wanted the replay improved. They wanted flip passes and one-timers. They wanted
improvements in the music. It goes on and on.

"I liked the fighting in [NHLPA]
'93 and we removed the blood. The NHLPA, as I recall, required us to remove the

Twenty years later, EA's NHL franchise
remains one of the best-selling sports video games in the world. With every
passing year, the game becomes more intricate and lifelike, thanks in large
part to EA's team of developers and designers.

But it all started with one developer
working in a barn in Maine.

"In those days, there weren't big
production teams. There was a sole programmer, me, and a graphics guy who I
hired," said Lesser, who spent hours trying to perfect the accuracy of
one-timed shots in the game.

"Then EA supplied a sound guy to
digitize the organ music. In fact, most of the work on that game was done in a
barn in Brooklin, Maine. Around 2:30 in the morning, I was playing and hit the
one-timer button and it was a perfect one-timer. When I forget everything else
about NHL '94, I'll remember that moment. It was a moment of real joy."

From the day it was released, NHL '94
was a hit. It allowed gamers everywhere to play out their favorite rivalries
and changed the way many people viewed both hockey and video games.

MORE 1992-93

"NHL '94 was about that couch
experience where we battled," said Sean Ramjagsingh, EA's current lead
producer for the NHL franchise. "I was in university at the time, so we
used to battle for everything, whether it was cleaning the bathroom or cooking
dinner or washing dishes. NHL '94 was the decider in who had to do those

"It's one of the first games that
I played religiously. I always wanted to be a part of hockey. NHL '94 was the
game that put video games on the road map for me and turned it into a

Though the Nintendo and Sega consoles
are now considered primitive technology, there are several gamers who continue
to play NHL '94 online through web emulators. In November 2010, the Kamloops Blazers celebrated their
Western Hockey League win over the Regina Pats by mimicking the robotic
movements of the NHL '94 avatars
. It was a tribute to the game that
came out when most of the players were 1 year old.

In fact, practically everyone
associated with the game has become a cult figure of sorts, including Ron Barr,
the longtime sportscaster who served as its pregame host.

"I was on an airplane once and a
flight attendant comes up to me and said there were a couple of kids who said
they thought they knew who I was. They were about 10 years old and one of them
told me, 'You're the dude in the hockey game.' Even now, kids will recognize
me," Barr told "I didn't expect that type of recognition and
exposure, but I'm really proud of it. It's a pop culture thing. You ask anybody
about the first video game they remember, they're going to say NHL '94."

The game even struck a chord with
hockey dilettantes. Gal Lavid, a Rutgers University graduate, in college became
so enamored with the game he adopted the Blackhawks as his team. By the time he
began dominating the game in local competitions, he went so far as to get a
Blackhawks tattoo.

"It was definitely a gateway for
the NHL for me. I always had a cursory interest in it, but didn't have that
kind of passion for it," Lavid said. "After Sega came out, I had a
Blackhawks poster in my dorm room be cause of the game."

Like 40-year-old Lavid, most gamers
associate the title closely with Roenick, who became a breakout player in a
game that included names like Gretzky, Roy, Lemieux, Yzerman and Bourque. And
for the man who was named history's fourth-greatest video game athlete by
gaming website -- behind Michael Vick, Bo Jackson and Mike Tyson --
it's a legacy he is happy to embrace.

"It's one of my claims to
fame," Roenick said. "I'm very proud of it. I'm down in the annals of
history, whether it's being on the ice or in video games. I like that aspect.
Whoever it was at EA who gave me the [great] rating in '94, you've left me
something to be proud of for eternity."

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Someone's paying attention to what is doing, cuz my top NHL '94 YouTube video, which usually gets 20-40 hits/day, got almost 200 hits on the 19th and 500+ on the 20th. No numbers for the 21st yet. The traffic sources say it's mostly YouTube searches driving the views, the top term by far being "nhl 94" (versus "nhl '94" and "nhl94.")

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Great write-up and link at Puck Daddy today couldn't be more perfect for this community.

EA Sports’ influential hockey video game classic “NHL ’94” was released 20 years ago. In its honor, we’re running a multi-part celebration of the game this week on Puck Daddy. Here’s blogger and radio host Scotty Wazz on the 10 greatest things about the game.

Even though this game is two decades old and many Sega Genesis’s and Super Nintendo’s are long gone, many still continue to play the game through emulators. The top NHL ’94—provides links to download emulators and games, to which they put together leagues and tournaments throughout the year for those who want to connect with other NHL ’94 followers, as well as maybe relive the old times they used to have with their neighborhood friends, but make new ones in the process.

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We should be adding a link to the Spring Classic registration in the comments (if allowed).

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