EA Sports’ NHL ’94 may be most influential video game ever

Everyone knows that the video games EA produces are influential. They’re popular, they’re acclaimed, they make waves, and some stand the test of time.

And some really stand the test of time… like NHL ’94. The classic hockey game for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis immortalized in the classic guy film Swingers is in the news today — in Kamloops, B.C. of all places — for its influence on the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers.

The game, like other early ‘90s NHL offerings from EA Sports, featured a comically simplistic goal celebration sequence from the pixelated players on the ice. Instead of high fiving, tapping sticks, hugging, saluting or throwing a mitt into the air and shooting it like real-life hockey players, the NHL ’94 players simply raise and lower their entire arms up and down while standing near the net. Kamloops Blazer goalie Cam Lanigan introduced the celebration to his teammates after playing an old Super Nintendo, and the whole team has bought into it. Kamloops this Week has the story:

“I was playing on my old console [Super Nintendo] one day and I scored a spectacular goal,” said Blazer netminder Cam Lanigan, who’s spearheading the unique celebration’s comeback.

“Everyone just stopped and threw their sticks over their heads and I thought it was the funniest thing ever.”

Since debuting the jerky, arm-heavy, post-win motion, several Blazers have heard rave reviews from players across the Dub.

“There’s been some chuckles around the league,” Underwood said. “Guys are loving it. It’s pretty simple. That’s the beauty of it.”

Using “beauty” as an adjective to describe the celebration might be a bit of a stretch, but beauty, in this case, is in the eye of the Blazer.

“We all decided it was a great idea,” said Blazers forward Ryan Hanes. “It’s going to catch on.”

Kudos to the excellent Puck Daddy Blog for finding this.

This is a pretty great way to bring some fun into the game. Hockey is always looking for ways to promote itself, and this celebration is a pretty cool way to get some publicity. As for the Blazers, the only way they could make their homage to NHL ’94 any more accurate is to make Gretzky’s head bleed, as this foul-mouthed clip illustrates.