EA Sports announced tonight that Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos will grace the cover of NHL 12, ending the Chicago Blackhawks' two-year reign on the hockey game's box (Patrick Kane was on the NHL 10 box, and Jonathan Toews was on the NHL 11 cover). The Lightning selected Stamkos with the first pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and he has become renowned for his goal-scoring talent (with 51 goals, he shared the 2010 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy for most goals in a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby) and his toughness (the man took a slapshot to the face in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, suffering a broken nose, but he quickly returned to the ice).
Stamkos, who has "grown up playing EA Sports NHL videogames," may not be a member of either of this year's Stanley Cup finalists, but the 21-year-old phenom is an exciting young star whose recognition by EA Sports is well-deserved. As the new face of the franchise, he will appear on all retail copies of NHL 12. Look for the game to hit store shelves for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 13, 2011, in North America, and September 9, 2011, in Europe.