The Madden Curse. Every die hard video game fan and most sports fans know of this infamous plague that strikes football players’ careers the year after they’re featured on the cover of the great football video game “Madden NFL Football.” But does this translate for the world of Professional Hockey? I have divulged into the past ten cover athletes and analyzed the stats and accolades they received in the year after they graced the cover of the game to determine whether or not the curse is real. Decide for yourself.
NHL 07: Alexander Ovechkin
Goals: 65 Assists: 47 Awards: Art Ross Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, Hart Memorial Trophy, All-Star appearance.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Ovie had already proven himself to be a top-notch player in the National Hockey League but needed to earn the cash for the next extension, and by god he did. Becoming the first player in the history of the NHL to win all 4 major awards (Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Pearson, and Hart) Ovechkin proved his worth and longevity in the league.
Cursed? Absolutely Not.
NHL 08: Eric Staal
Goals: 40 Assists: 35 Awards: All-Star appearance, All-Star MVP.
Coming off a playoff-less season, Staal needed to revitalize the former Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes. He was an offensive machine leading the league in hat tricks (4) and eventually going on to win the All-Star MVP and taking the Canes to the Easter Conference Finals yet losing to the future Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
NHL 09: Dion Phaneuf
Goals: 11 Assists: 36 Awards: None
Being a star defenseman in the NHL meant Dion Phaneuf was tremendously physical and powerful. But as years passed, he also became known for spectacular passing and offensive ability. Yet, after Phaneuf graced the cover of NHL 09, he hit career lows in goals (11), points (47), and a plus-minus rating of -11. Trade rumors buzzed around the star for weeks into the playoffs, which he missed the final game of the Flames playoff run with broken ribs. Injuries being management’s excuse for Phaneuf’s lackluster play, he was traded the following year to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
NHL 10: Patrick Kane
Goals: 30 Assists: 58 Awards: Winter Olympics Silver Medal, Stanley Cup, First NHL All-Star Team.
After being featured on the cover of NHL 10, Patrick Kane became a man possessed. He signed a 5 year, $31.5 million dollar extension in the 2009-2010 season and finished with a career high in points (88). His individual achievements were not his greatest attribute, however as he led the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. He was helped by fellow stars Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, but it would not have been possible without Kane’s game winner in Game 6.
NHL 11: Jonathan Toews
Goals: 32 Assists: 44 Awards: All-Star.
Another major piece to the Blackhawks success, Jonathan Toews is an offensive center often taken for granted because of his team’s greatness. In the 2010-2011 season, Toews tallied a career high 76 points in 80 games, but his team struggled. The Blackhawks faced issues with salary cap and traded many pieces, only making it in as the 8th seed in the Western Conference and being eliminated in the first round.
Cursed? Debatable, but no.
NHL 12: Steven Stamkos
Goals: 60 Assists: 37 Awards: Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, All-Star.
Being featured on the cover of a video game was the most minor of honors for Steven Stamkos in the 2011-2012 season. Scoring 60 goals on the year, Stamkos broke the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise record for goals in a season, became the 20th player in league history to score 60 goals, ranked second in the NHL in points (97) behind Evgeni Malkin, and was named a finalist for the Hart Trophy. A spectacular individual season to boast was unfortunately not enough from Stamkos as the Lightning went on to miss the playoffs.
NHL 13: Claude Giroux
Goals: 13 Assists: 35 Awards: Toyota Cup
Now before you scream curse, let it be known that the 2012-2013 NHL season was an infamous lockout, Giroux only played 48 games total in which he tallied 48 points. The new Flyers captain struggled without stars like Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell and eventually missed the playoffs despite ending on a strong individual note and being the clear cut superstar of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Cursed? Yes, by a small margin.
NHL 14: Martin Brodeur
W/L: 19-14 SV%: .901 SO: 3 Awards: None
Different position than the rest of the offensive players on this list, Brodeur is considered to be one of, if not the greatest, goalies of all time. When the 41 year-old was voted onto the cover, it was mostly out of respect to the veteran with one foot out the door. After receiving every other award that could be bestowed upon an NHL goalie, Brodeur was very honored to grace the cover of the game.
Cursed? Yes, by old age.
NHL 15: Patrice Bergeron
Goals: 23 Assists: 32 Awards: All-Star, Frank J. Selke Trophy.
Boston Bruins cornerstone center Patrice Bergeron has become the face of the franchise over the past few years. Leading his team through all obstacles, Bergeron has won a Stanley Cup and is an All-Star, staking his name as one of the best centers in the league. In the 2014-2015 season, Bergeron became the 17th player in Boston history to score 200 or more goals, tallying 55 points on the year.
NHL 16: Jonathan Toews
Goals: 28 Assists: 30 Awards: World Cup of Hockey Gold Medal, All-Star (did not appear because of illness)
The only two-timer on the list, Toews once again proved himself worthy to grace the cover after leading his team to another Stanley Cup in the 2014-2015 season. In the 2015-2016 season his numbers dropped slightly, but he maintained his status as a star in the NHL and the Blackhawks remained a dominant force to be reckoned with.
So what do you think? Is the curse real, or is it simply a myth that should stay in the realm of Professional Football? Reply in the comments or on our Twitter or Facebook account! As always this is Drew Bishop signing off.
Drew Bishop is the “Hockey America” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can contact him at his email: firstname.lastname@example.org