NHL 13 Fans Select This Year's Cover Athlete

By Paul Hunter

Canadian-born hockey superstar Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers' top point scorer for the last two seasons, has been named the cover athlete for NHL 13. The announcement by EA Sports and the NHL was made during the live broadcast of the league's annual awards banquet, which took place at the world famous Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.

A fan-voted contest which ran from March 29 to June 4 decided this year's cover athlete, with EA boasting over 26 million votes cast on NHL.com during the campaign period, and over 2 million votes cast during the finals.

The first-ever "Cover Vote Campaign", as EA called it, started with a field of 60 NHL superstars, and was narrowed down to one from each of the league's teams plus two additional wildcard selections made by EA. The second round of voting, which had the top 16 players advance into a single-elimination playoff bracket, had weekly face-offs competitions where fans were encouraged to vote as often as possible to ensure their favourite player advanced through the rounds.

Giroux beat Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during the final by less than a one percent margin, the closest match-up of the entire competition. After announcing Giroux as the winner, EA prepared a trailer showing the Philadelphia right-winger in action:

“The support fans have given me throughout the campaign has been unbelievable,” said Giroux of the experience. “I am very excited to be on the cover of NHL 13 and I want to thank everyone who campaigned and voted for me - especially my teammates, the Flyers organization, and of course all the NHL fans who voted and tweeted.”

EA was likewise enthusiastic at the tremendous momentem that carried through the nearly 10 week campaign:

“The level of passion that the fans, players, and NHL teams have displayed throughout the first ever EA Sports NHL Cover Vote campaign has been overwhelming,” said Dean Richards, General Manager, NHL, EA Sports. “The EA Sports NHL Franchise has had a rich tradition of outstanding cover athletes and quality games, and we feel privileged to introduce Claude Giroux as the face of NHL 13 as selected by the fans. With Giroux on the cover and our revolutionary new True Performance Skating engine, we feel great about delivering our most innovative title yet with NHL 13.”

At EA's booth during E3 I had the opportunity to speak to spokesperson Ben Ross who had the following to say about what to expect in NHL 13:

EA promises that NHL 13 will deliver the biggest change to the franchise since the introduction of the Skill Stick way back in NHL 07. The headline gameplay feature for this year's edition, dubbed "True Performance Skating" and the improved A.I. system, "EA Sports Hockey I.Q.", are set to deliver the most authentic hockey experience fans have seen yet, says EA.

NHL 13 is releasing for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 11, 2012 in North America. The game is being developed by EA Canada and is published by the EA Sports division.

[This article originally appeared on the Future Shop Tech Blog]