Patrice Bergeron, an alternate captain for the Boston Bruins, already has his name on the Stanley Cup. Now he can add EA Sports NHL 15 cover athlete to his list of accomplishments. And that’s quite a list. The NHL veteran has won gold medals playing for his native Canada at the 2004 World Championships, 2005 World Junior Championships and 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. Having scored the game winning goal of Game 7 in the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship game against the Vancouver Canucks, Bergeron is a member of the Triple Gold Club. The 29-year-old center was voted onto the cover of the first next gen hockey game by fans around the globe. Before lacing up for a new season of hockey, one of the best two-way players in the NHL took some time to talk hockey, video games and the art of the face-off in this exclusive interview.
What was it like being part of the fan voting process for the cover of NHL 15?
First of all, I was very surprised when I got the call saying that I was going to be one of the eight guys to battle for a campaign of voting of the fans. Basically, the thing was to just try to promote yourself and have fans vote for you and the best player wins. I don’t have social media, so I couldn’t do much about that and try to help myself to get the votes. The Bruins did a lot of that, actually. I have to thank for them that, I guess. They really helped out in that manner, and they started a campaign for me. So I was surprised when I won, but definitely grateful for all the support that I received over the whole campaign.
When you were a kid growing up, did you play a lot of video games and if so what were some of the ones you thought you were really good at?
Yeah, I played a lot of games when I was 10, 12, 14. A lot of hockey, actually. NHL ’93 and ’94 was basically the game that I used to play growing up and played a lot against my brother and my friends. I have great memories of playing that game.
Also, never in a million years would I have thought that one day I’d be on the cover of that same game. So it’s very surreal and I’m very grateful for the whole experience.
Do you and the Bruins on road trips or in the locker room fire up the video games?
There’s a few guys that play online and through Xbox Live, and play some games and sometimes they play hockey. I’ve tried a few times, but they’re way too good for me to keep going. I got to practice a little bit more before I get back on that group. They have too much experience, but yeah it’s fun.
Is there anything in particular that next gen systems Xbox One and PS4 really bring to the sport of hockey in NHL 15?
With the new game I think it’s really the visuals. It looks so realistic, just like in real life. Whether it’s the buildings that look exactly like the real buildings, like the TD Garden in Boston looks exactly the same to a T. The same thing with adding Doc (Emrick) and Eddie (Olczyk) to the broadcast booth, it’s like you’re watching a real game. Even the way that the players move on the ice, if you look at our center men just taking a face-offs you can see the back and forth of the stick as he goes to his forehand and it’s pretty cool. There’s lots of features that are pretty amazing.
Do you guys in the NHL ever talk about your player ratings in the EA Sports games?
Yeah, sometimes we talk about it and guys actually chirp at each other about it if they’re low, or if they’re higher than others think it should be and stuff like that. I’m really satisfied with my ranking this year. I don’t know if that has something to do with me on the cover, but I got to thank whoever did that. I mean it’s 91, which is really high and I’m really happy with it. But I’m sure some guys will hear about it and some guys will say, “How come I’m not as high as you.” It’s all in good fun and so it’s always something you can have good laughs out of it.
What was it like going to New York City for the launch of NHL 15 and getting to play against fans and meet kids?
It’s fun. I had a great time with them. Daniel (Quigley) was a big Bruins fan and was really helpful in the beginning to show me how it works, and I needed that actually because it’s been awhile since I played, and especially being in front of all the people that were watching. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, but it was a good time.
What advice would you give to gamers playing as the Bruins in NHL 15?
We’re a well-balanced team, so you have to utilize all your lines and try to definitely work on the one-timers, the quick plays in the corners. Plays shot from the slot seem with the quick passes seem to be the ones that work well. I didn’t score, but it seems like that was the only time that I seemed to have a little bit of an offense.
So I’d go with that, but who am I to give people advice about that game? I think they’re going to figure out and I’m sure they’re going to do better than me, actually.
What would you like EA Sports to add to NHL 16 next year?
I didn’t notice anything after playing a couple games. It looked great. It looked like real life and I was really amazed with the face-offs. It looked so real, so it was good.
Speaking of face-offs, what does it take to be a good face-off artist in the real NHL?
I think it’s repetition. You have to practice. You have to ask around and find out what the guys that are center men what they do against this and that and try to see how you can implement that into your game and try to find a way to always work on different aspects of your face-off. Repetition is really the only way you can get better at it, taking as many draws as you can and really working on your quickness. The quickness of your wrists to draw it back is important, but also it’s not just about that first try, it’s about the second and third one when the puck is laying there -- to just be really quick at it.