The NHL is undergoing an offensive renaissance of sorts, with a bevy of up-and-coming goal scorers like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexender Ovechkin lighting the lamp like few others in recent memory. But when it came time to name the cover athlete for this year's edition of its long-running hockey sim, Electronic Arts went with a standout defenseman from the new breed of stars.
EA today named Calgary Flames blue-liner Dion Phaneuf as the worldwide cover star for NHL 09. The publisher chose the 23-year-old two-time All-Star for the packaging to mirror the new defensive focus of the game within. Where NHL 07 and NHL 08 were noted for their incorporation of the "skill stick" mechanic for puck carriers, EA is introducing defensive skill stick mechanics in NHL 09. This year's game will also include an overhaul to bodychecking.
While Phaneuf will appear on most copies of NHL 09, EA also announced a pair of stars to front the game in their own countries. Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will appear on the cover in Sweden, and NHL 07 coverboy Alexander Ovechkin will reprise that role for NHL 09 in his native Russia.
NHL 09 will be released in September for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and PC. For more on the game, check out GameSpot's first preview.