Canadian hockey star Sarah Nurse will be the first woman to grace the cover of the EA Sports’ NHL video game franchise, Electronic Arts announced Wednesday. Also for the first time, EA Sports will be adding the International Ice Hockey Federation’s women’s national team rosters to the game.
“It is such a tremendous honor to be the first woman on the cover of the EA Sports’ NHL franchise,” Nurse said in a news release. “Hockey is really for everybody and I’m excited that ‘NHL 23’ is celebrating the diversity and inclusivity of the sport. I hope that the increased representation of women in such a prominent game will inspire young girls everywhere to know that there is a place for them in hockey.”
Nurse led all players with an Olympic-record 18 points to help Team Canada to a gold medal over the United States at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. She will be joined on the cover by 21-year-old Anaheim Ducks star Trevor Zegras, who has electrified NHL crowds with an array of impressive stickhandling and lacrosse-style goals.
The decision to put Nurse on the cover of the long-running hockey sim comes as women fight for pay equality and to establish a sustainable professional league in North America. The NHL has also seen a recent influx of women installed into prominent positions with the league’s organizations. In July, the New Jersey Devils hired Kate Madigan to the role of assistant general manager and the Los Angeles Kings added former Team Canada star goalie Manon Rhéaume as a hockey operations adviser with a focus on prospect development. Rhéaume was the first woman to ever play in an NHL game, tending the net for the Tampa Bay Lightning during a 1992 preseason game.
EA Sports added the rosters to women’s International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) teams to the previous installment of the annualized hockey sim, “NHL 22.” It also recently added women’s soccer club team rosters from the top leagues in England and France to its FIFA franchise for its upcoming installment, “FIFA 23,” which releases Sept. 30. Chelsea standout Sam Kerr will be featured on one version of that game’s cover; another will feature French forward Kylian Mbappé. The company had previously featured U.S. Women’s National Team striker Alex Morgan on the cover of “FIFA 16” alongside Argentine phenom Lionel Messi.
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