For those of you who live under a rock, P.K. Subban found out at the NHL Awards that he did not win the chance to be the face of EA NHL 15. The news was delivered via a truly interesting in-character dance-off by JabbaWockeeZ. The hip-hop dance troupe staged a dance battle between Bergeron and Subban, the two finalists for the cover, and while I personally felt the dancers playing Subban had more impressive moves, ultimately, Team Bergeron pulled it off.
Then again, in the spirit of full disclosure, I voted for Subban.
At first, I couldn’t understand why, or how, Subban lost this vote. He’s charismatic, a dynamic player, and surely his social media presence was a positive for him. Why, then, did he lose the popular vote? Below are five reasons why Subban lost this contest.
1) He’s a defender.
Think about it. Of the last 10 players to grace the video game cover, only one was a defender: Dion Phaneuf. Eight others were forwards, and the cover player of EA NHL 14 was goalie Martin Brodeur.
It’s difficult in any sport for defenders to get as much press as forwards. Their job focuses on protection, which is not nearly as sexy as offense and if done well, should result in goals prevented. If done really well, it can also result in goals scored (for your team) but that is rarer. Goals are exciting, we understand, and it can be tough for the average fan to break themselves out of that offense-thinking mindset.
For popularity’s sake, it’s unusual for a defender to make the cover of any game, and more so for a goalie and defender to take the cover in back-to-back years.
In this case, the gloryhogs that are forwards kept this honor for themselves.
2.) He’s too Canadian.
Look at the man. He practically reeks of Canadian-ness. He’s always smiling, has fantastic dress sense, and is so kind to everyone that he’ll even kiss reporters, as Pierre McGuire found out only a few weeks ago.
I love the guy, but in this case, voting worked against him. Given that hockey is so popular in Canada, there’s a good case to be made that a large number of Canadians were voting, and here’s where he lost out on a good percentage of votes precisely because of the team he plays for.
The fans of other Canadian teams (particularly the Leafs) would not be likely to vote for Subban, no matter how good he is, and no matter how Canadian he is. Bergeron is Canadian, but he plays for a team in the U.S., which in this case works for him. Not only does he play for the Bruins, one of the most popular NHL teams in the United States, but remains proudly French Canadian.
(It’s also a nice little “gotcha” to vote for a Bruin over a Hab if you’re anti-Canadien, considering the longstanding rivalry between the two teams.)
Bergeron’s Bruin-for-life attitude combined with his charity work in the Boston community gives him international appeal to both Canadians and Americans, something Subban doesn’t have. This most likely dealt him a significant blow in the voting.
3.) I’ll say it: he’s black. Didn’t know that, did you?
In our society, a lot of choices are racially motivated while flying under our conscious radar. Fans were asked to vote for their favorite player, and while Subban is getting more of the credit that he deserves, he still suffers from racist comments made by fans and media alike. Think back to the Canadiens-Boston series, if you’re hard-pressed to recall a single incident where he was unfairly targeted because of skin color.
If you do the research, none of the last ten players to make the cover are people of color. Sadly, I did not have the time or money (or the authority) to do a full online family tree search for each of the individuals, but after digging into their backgrounds via Wikipedia I couldn’t find any evidence to support POC status, aside from the basic premise that all life started in Africa. And to be fair, they’re all pretty darn pale.
Even if I am wrong, and one or two of them do identify as a person of color, that still displays a disappointing lack of diversity in the public’s cover choices.
4.) He’s saving himself for when he wins the Ted Lindsay Award, the Hart trophy, the Norris trophy and is asked to host the NHL Awards show.
It’s as good a theory as any. And what’s more, I bet you can’t disprove it.
5.) His campaign wasn’t flashy enough
I know this is a ridiculous reason for someone who faced many complaints for his flashiness on the ice and enthusiasm in his goal-scoring celebration, but he simply did not deliver his normal, exuberant Subban Experience this time. Other potential EA NHL 15 faces went to extremes to get votes. T.J. Oshie created a series of videos of him playing — and failing at — other sports, and Bergeron sent the Bruins mascot out into the streets to shill for him. Subban, on the other hand, ran a thoroughly enjoyable Twitter campaign, but did not push hard beyond that.
In truth, it was most likely not one of these reasons, but a combination thereof that prevented Subban from garnering enough votes for a definitive victory. (Though maybe not reason 4. That was pure silliness on my part.) Honestly, I’m glad Subban didn’t win this time. It will make it all the sweeter when he does.