EA Sports is reportedly in discussions with the NCAA to bring Division I college hockey teams to the NHL series.
In an interview with The Pipeline Show
the other day, Paul Kelly, Executive Director of College Hockey, said that they have been in discussions with EA Sports for a couple of weeks.
"We've actually been in discussions with EA for a couple of weeks, and while we don't have a formal announcement to make at this moment, we are certainly in discussions with EA Sports and they are very interested in having a college component to their game. We, the colleges, are very interested in having that happen and we are just currently in the process of figuring out what dimensions that ought to take. The answer to your question though is 'YES" just as there is going to be a CHL component to the video game, there will be a college hockey component as well."
The Pipeline Show then asked Kelly whether the NCAA teams would be included in NHL 11. He responded, saying, "I'm hopeful. I don't know much about the development of video games…if we come to a finality here in the next couple of weeks and whether that would give them enough time to roll it out in time for September…I would hope so but I don't know the answer to that. As soon as they are able to do it, we'll be doing it."
This is great news for U.S. hockey fans and more importantly, for hockey fans in general. The NCAA is one of the larger sources of NHL talent with just some former college hockey players including former and current stars such as Paul Kariya, Martin St. Louis, Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller, Brian Gionta and John Leclair.
This guy played NCAA hockey
The addition of NCAA hockey could help further add to the realism of both Be A GM Mode and Be A Pro Mode. Combined with the recent announcement that the CHL will be in NHL 11, it would allow players to draft from realistic sources of talent and begin their own virtual careers at realistic starting places.
The CHL is Canada's top junior league consisting of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. It includes several teams based in the U.S.
The inclusion of NCAA hockey could allow for players to begin their virtual pro careers as college hockey players (or even high school players who play in a state championship to determine what schools want to offer a scholarship similar to what's seen in NCAA Football). They would improve their skills and get drafted based on how well they play at the NCAA or CHL levels and eventually make the team, becoming NHL superstars.
Since the NCAA consists of amateur players, the NCAA portion of NHL 11 wouldn't include actual player names, unlike the CHL, which is semi-pro and thus the players names and likenesses can be used. Regardless, just having the NCAA in NHL 11 will be seen as a big addition for many fans of the series. College hockey is a level of the sport that many are passionate about, and while EA Sports is reportedly improving physics and gameplay for NHL 11, it's apparent that they are also focusing on improving the amount of options players have in the game.
We've reached out to EA Sports for comment and will update this post if they get back to us with any confirmation or the standard "no comment on rumor or speculation" answer.