Canucks and Beyond

EA Sports and their Crystal Ball

08/15/2008 at 7:27pm EDT

EA Sports is putting out NHL ‘09 on September 9th, and in anticipation they’ve released their player rankings for every team’s roster. Those rankings use a pile of criteria some of which appear more subjective than those determined by straight statistics.

For the details, you can click here and scroll down to see each player’s rankings on their team page. Sort of entertaining if you use them as a predictor of how the player will perform in real life.

One aspect of the rankings that stands out (to me, at least) is that “toughness” and “aggressiveness” are two separate categories. How is it that those numbers are isolated and determined? I’m not sure, but it escalates my violence perception of a player a wee bit.

For instance, looking at those two categories on the Vancouver Canucks roster, Darcy Hordichuk ranks as 94/99 on the toughness scale, and 95/99 on the aggression scale. So maybe one could say that Darcy is similar to a starving and abused pit bull who’s being prodded with a sharp stick while some joker calls him “Darla Upchuck”...?

Well, the guys of EA Sports would have you believe that’s a bad idea, because Darcy’s tough and aggressive, after all. And he will hurt you. And he will like it. (And then later he will take a video of the beating and post it on his own website so he can enjoy it again and again…)

So yeah, in this case the 94 and 95 scores are probably a fairly accurate predictor of Hordichuk’s future behavior.

But EA Sports might not always be as trustworthy in their rankings. Turning to the Eastern Conference, James Gordon at Hockey Capital has his own concerns about how the Ottawa Senators shake out. For instance, apparently we’re meant to believe that Jason Spezza hits harder than Mike Fisher. (Umm….really??) As Gordon remarks, it’s one of the “head-scratchers.”

And then other rankings are just worrisome on a personal level. I’m thinking of poor Kyle Wellwood, a brand-new Canuck whose own scores for toughness and aggression (68 and 67) would imply that we should just expect him to lie down on the ice and bleed a lot in NHL ‘09. Cripes.

Fortunately the game is still being tweaked before its release so perhaps expectations will be raised by the time the game hits our Playstations.

For Kyle’s sake, I hope so. ;)

Update 3:15pm PT:

I’ve been away for the past week and I just noticed that Barry Melrose Rocks turned the EA player rankings into EA hockey blogger rankings yesterday. (Very clever and possibly more accurate than the NHL ‘09 version!)

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