- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
EA Sports is making women’s teams available for the first time in its NHL video game series.
Starting in early 2022, International Ice Hockey Federation women’s national teams and the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship will be added to NHL 22, making Team USA and Hockey Canada stars, among others, playable in the game.
“The introduction of women’s national teams to NHL 22 as part of the upcoming IIHF content will be an important moment for the franchise in its continued effort to reflect the diversity of the hockey community,” said Sean Ramjagsingh, vice president of EA Sports.
U.S. national team player Kendall Coyne Schofield, whose team won the gold medal over Canada in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, said this is an “instrumental” moment for women’s hockey.
Coyne Schofield played video games growing up because her brother would challenge her. She would play as the Chicago Blackhawks — coincidentally, the NHL team with which she’s now employed as a player-development coach — but always hoped there would be a day when women’s hockey players could have their own digital fame.
“A lot of us grew up without seeing role models on a consistent basis. We’d go to NHL games and never see anyone that looked like us,” she said. “I’m so excited to see what kind of effect this is going to have on the next generations, seeing women and men in the same game, knowing that they can be either one of us.”
There will be 10 women’s teams to choose from in tournament mode. Already, the U.S. players have started talking about their player ratings.
“When we first found out we were going to be in the video game, that was my husband’s first question, too: ‘What’s your rating?'” said Coyne Schofield, who is married to Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Michael Schofield.
“And I said, ‘I don’t know. … What’s yours?'”
Coyne Schofield, who famously competed in the 2019 NHL All-Star Game fastest-skater competition, said she hasn’t had input on her speed rating.
“I haven’t started that negotiation yet,” she said with a laugh. “If there was one opportunity for 100% in my game, it would be my speed. We’ll see what they think.”
In addition to the women’s teams, EA Sports will add IIHF content for men’s teams in early 2022. Players can experience the IIHF World Junior Championship and the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, with updated jerseys and branding for men’s national teams.
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