NHL is a series of professional ice hockey simulation video games developed by EA Canada and published yearly by Electronic Arts under the EA Sports brand. The game is developed under license from both the National Hockey League (NHL), which enable the use of team names and designs in the game, and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA), which enables the use of player names and likenesses.


NHL Hockey has NHL and NHLPA licenses, so player names and team logos are in use.

The Free-4-All mini-game was introduced in "NHL 2005," letting gamers compete with each other by scoring goals on one goaltender, either in a certain time limit, or until someone scores a certain number of goals. With appropriate settings, defensemen can be incorporated into the game, making it more challenging.

The NHL is not the only league in more recent games: A Nordic expansion of NHL 2001 was published by EA Sports Nordica introducing Finland's SM-Liiga and Sweden's Elitserien. Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga was introduced in 2004 and the two previous leagues made a return. The game has expanded to include the Czech Republic's Tipsport Extraliga in "NHL 07" and in "NHL 10" the Swiss NLA. Before "NHL 07," users could only use European teams for Exhibition and Season modes. Now, users can bring a European team into Dynasty mode.

A revamped Create-a-Player feature is available after being taken out of "NHL 2005." Gone are the pre-modeled faces to choose from and in comes facial sculpting, inspired by that of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour videogames. Create-a-Team has remained the same. Players have the ability to recreate defunct or vintage teams, or start new ones with plenty of logos and jersey designs to choose from. The Hartford Whalers logo was not included due to the fact that the city of Hartford owns the team's rights and has prohibited the team's inclusion in the game. In "NHL 11" though, the logo and jersey appear. Create-a-Team is unavailable for the "NHL 07" Xbox 360 game, but returned in "NHL 08". A Shootout mode is introduced in "NHL 07," emulating a true-to-NHL shootout. It is used to get Xbox 360 players familiarized with the game's new Skill Stick, as well as a means to practice shooting. Users have the ability to turn shootout rules on or off. Note: Shootout options in actual games will always be on.

International play[]

The World Cup of Hockey was a feature in "NHL 2005", coinciding with said event featuring authentic rosters and uniforms. It has been relabeled as "EA Sports' World Tournament" from "NHL 06" onward with non-licensed jerseys due to the lack of the IIHF license. Rosters for international teams in "NHL 06" were based on the real rosters of the 2006 Winter Olympics. NHL 10 did not feature the Olympic rosters of the teams playing in the 2010 Winter Olympics upon release; a later roster update corrected many national teams.

List of games[]

Title Year Platforms
NHL Hockey 1991 Sega Genesis
NHLPA Hockey 93 1992 Sega Genesis, SNES
NHL '94 1993 DOS, Sega Mega-CD, Sega Genesis, SNES
NHL 95 1994 DOS, GameBoy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, SNES
NHL 96 1995 DOS, GameBoy, Sega Genesis, SNES
NHL 97 1996 DOS, PS1, Sega Saturn, Sega Genesis, SNES, Win
NHL 98 1997 PS1, Sega Saturn, Sega Genesis, SNES, Win
NHL 99 1998 N64, PS1, Win
NHL 2000 1999 GameBoy Color, PS1, Win
NHL Rock the Rink 2000 PS1
NHL 2001 2000 PS1, PS2, Win
NHL 2002 2001 GameBoy Advance, PS2, Win, Xbox
NHL 2003 2002 GameCube, PS2, Win, Xbox
NHL 2004 2003 GameCube, PS2, Win, Xbox
NHL 2005 2004 GameCube, PS2, Win, Xbox
NHL 06 2005 GameCube, PS2, Win, Xbox
NHL 07 2006 Xbox 360, PS2, PSP, Win, Xbox
NHL 08 2007 PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Win
NHL 09 2008 PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Win
3 on 3 NHL Arcade 2009 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 10 2009 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 11 2010 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL Slapshot 2010 Wii
NHL 12 2011 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 13 2012 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 14 2013 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 15 2014 PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 16 2015 PS4, Xbox One
NHL: Legacy Edition 2015 PS3, Xbox 360
NHL 17 2016 PS4, Xbox One
NHL 18 2017 PS4, Xbox One
NHL 19 2018 PS4, Xbox One
NHL 20 2019 PS4, Xbox One
NHL 21 2020 PS4, Xbox One
NHL 22 2022 PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S

Game covers[]

NHL 95 cover for the Mega Drive.

As is traditional with EA Sports, the NHL series boxes feature live action photos instead of drawings. As it lacked the NHLPA license, the early titles staged photos without real players. NHLPA Hockey 93, on the other hand, had the rights to use player images, but not of the teams. On this cover, the main action photo features the New York Rangers' Randy Moller checking the Philadelphia Flyers' Rod Brind'Amour while Rangers goaltender Mike Richter makes a save (in this photo there is the logo of the New York Rangers located on the bottom right of the goaltender's pants). This photo is surrounded by eight small portraits of players (Steve Yzerman, Andy Moog, Pat LaFontaine, Brian Leetch, Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, Jeremy Roenick, and Rick Tocchet). This changed with NHL 94, which featured a goal situation for Tomas Sandstrom (LA Kings) against Andy Moog (Boston). NHL 95 featured an in-goal camera during a goal scored by Alexei Kovalev of the New York Rangers during the '94 Stanley Cup Finals against Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks. NHL 96 featured New Jersey's Scott Stevens and Detroit's Steve Yzerman. EA Sports has not announced who will be on the cover of NHL 12, but fan speculation on forums has Tim Thomas, Carey Price, and Ryan Miller as the frontrunners. The latter has been featured on some fake fan-designed NHL 12 covers. If either of the three abovementioned players are picked, it would be the first time since 2006 that a goalie was on the cover of any NHL game (including the NHL 2K Series), when Marty Turco, then of the Dallas Stars, appeared on the cover of 2K Sports' NHL 2K6. It would be the first time since 1997 that a goalie was on the cover of an EA Sports NHL game, when John Vanbiesbrouck, then of the Florida Panthers, was featured on NHL 97.


In NHLPA '93 and NHL '94, Emmy award-winning sportscaster Ron Barr gives a pre-game scouting report prior to each game. In the Genesis version of NHL 95, KNBR radio sportscaster John Shrader replaced Ron Barr in that duty. Live play-by-play commentary was introduced in "NHL 97". Jim Hughson, currently play-by-play man for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and also one of Canada's best-known hockey announcers, provided the play-by-play for much of the series, excluding the Xbox 360 version of "NHL 07" and the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of "NHL 08" through "NHL 11"; which is provided by Gary Thorne and from NHL 15 until NHL 19, Mike "Doc" Emrick commentated matches. Color commentary is provided by Daryl Reaugh (1998–99), Bill Clement (2000, 2001, and all Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions), Don Taylor (2002–03), Craig Simpson (2004–09) and Eddie Olczyk (2015-19). Play-By-Play commentary is now provided by James Cybulski, while Ray Ferraro does the color commentary.


"NHL '99" was the first game in the series to feature fully-licensed music from David Bowie. Since then, each game has had soundtracks of licensed music known as EA Sports Trax, with selections of punk, alternative, and rock music.