And the NHL ’15 Cover Goes To… Patrice Bergeron

nhl-15-box-artOn the brink of the cover vote announcement, we sat down with Patrice Bergeron at the EA Sports studios in Burnaby, BC to talk about how it feels to be the cover star of EA’s latest on-ice series, NHL 15.

It was a sunny afternoon as I made my way up to the spacious EA studios. As I was approaching the large entrance, a car pulled up beside me and out walked the man himself – Patrice Bergeron. After an introduction from the team at EA, Patrice would make his way into the studios to try out the game. When I sat down to speak with him, he was fresh off the experience of trying out NHL 15 for the first time.

“NHL 15 is the start of a new generation of hockey video games, where the sights, sounds and feel of the fastest sport on the planet come to life in a way you’ve never experienced before. NHL 15 features the most realistic looking and skating hockey players ever in a video game, along with the most detailed and authentic representation of the game of hockey itself,” states EA in a boilerplate about the game. Patrice’s unprompted explanation of NHL 15 would later nod to this. Interestingly, Patrice is the first cover winner of this next-generation of NHL games.

The gameplay of NHL 15 is impressive and has a realism to it unmatched by previous hockey video games. EA released a trailer of the game as a teaser, which can be viewed here, to showcase the level of gameplay and quality of graphics fans can expect. NHL 15 is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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Game gymnastics aside, sitting down to speak to Patrice I couldn’t help but ponder his accomplishments. Born the same year as myself, the 28-year-old Bruins centre has numerous accolades to his name including a Stanley Cup and two gold medals. I had to ask – where does winning the cover of NHL 15 rank in all of this?

“It’s tough to compare,” he admits. “I don’t want to put numbers on anything that I’ve accomplished with my team or with this, with the cover vote. It is pretty special. I’ve played the game growing up and I remember so many times playing with my brother coming back from school, and never in a million years would I have imagined being on the cover of that same game that I’ve played. So it’s very special. And there are so many amazing players that have been on the cover before in the past so it’s very humbling to be part of that list now.”

We asked Bergeron how he felt knowing the fans voted for him and, despite his humility and wanting to focus on his team rather than his own accomplishments, it was clear he appreciated the support.

“It feels great. I’m definitely grateful of the response that it created, and that the fans made a run for me in the cover vote so it’s definitely something very special. And it’s not surprising from the Bruins fans, we know how passionate they are. I’ve heard about it a lot back home in Quebec, a lot of people like friends and people that I don’t even know that voted. So it was actually a great turnout.”

Bergeron paused. “It’s tough for me to talk about myself, it’s usually more about the Bruins, but it’s definitely very special.”

The Boston Bruins forward and Quebec native has fond memories of playing video games with his brother, but confesses that he plays less now.

“I don’t play anymore, my brother plays a lot still but I got away from a bit as I got older but still I guess. I have so many great memories. That was my first game in a while,” Bergeron admits, referring to testing out NHL 15 immediately prior to our interview. “I was impressed and amazed by how the game looks now, how realistic it actually is. We were in the (TD) Garden playing the Bruins and I was amazed. You know it’s basically like you’re watching TV almost, really intriguing to see.”

nhl-94-quebec-hartfordAnd his favourite video game as a kid?

“NHL for sure!”

He continued, “Yeah NHL 94. I still remember that one-timers were the only – well, the best – way to score goals and I was always the Nordiques, you know growing up in Quebec City. So I remember that a lot growing up.”

And what would he say if he could go back in time and tell himself playing NHL 94, ‘Hey buddy, you’re going to be on the cover of that game one day.’ What would that bright-eyed kid say back to him?

“He’d think I was crazy,” smiled Bergeron. “That would be the one thing for sure. I mean, it was always my dream to one day play in the NHL and make it and I definitely worked hard to get here. I’ve had amazing people along the way who helped me get here, but like I said I never before imagined this would actually happen. It’s a special feeling and I know I’ve had a lot help along the way.”

He’s worked hard too, and he’s inspiring other young hockey fans along the way. It’s a great irony that there are kids right now in the same place Bergeron found himself in all those years ago when he was playing NHL 94. There will be kids out there who play NHL 15, see Bergeron on the cover and dream about it happening to them one day. What message does he have to those kids about following their dreams? His message was simple.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re crazy. It can actually happen. I’m the perfect example, I was one of those kids that had a dream and worked hard for it.”

Bergeron is humble and doesn’t elaborate on his accomplishments, but the truth is he is a great role model for so many. He does a great deal of work giving back to his community and kids really do look up to him. But what about his teammates? We spoke to him ahead of the big reveal at the NHL Awards, and wanted to know what his teammates would say about him being on the cover.

“That’s a good question. I’m sure my teammates will be supportive. They will be happy, and part of it is they’ve helped. I know a lot of teammates who also voted so they helped me get on there and they’ve helped me on the ice as well. So I know they will help me and be behind me. I’m just excited.”

It’s been a big year for Patrice Bergeron. Success in Sochi, winning the cover of his favourite childhood video game, and of course hoisting the Stanley Cup back in 2011. What’s next?

“Hopefully another Stanley Cup. It’s definitely the goal. Once you actually taste it you want more and you want to relive those emotions. It’s definitely something that’s on our mind.”

Something tells us that his wish will come true soon enough.

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