This year's edition features many different modes of gameplay for the NHL enthusiast. Players can start the game right away in play now mode, play an international game, play through a playoff series, or start a franchise. The franchise mode puts you in charge of a team for a 10-year legacy. You can either play every game during a season or simulate each game and take a manager role. After each season, you have the option to play around with the roster in anticipation of next season. You can draft new players, sign free agents, make trades with other teams, and retire old players. Statistics are kept throughout the life of a franchise in several categories.
Also new this year is the use of the right analog stick to execute manual dekes and slip the puck past the goalkeeper.
Curse or slump? You be the judge. Jarome Iginlia had 52 goals, 44 assists, was +27 and never missed a game in the 2001-02 season. He followed this up with his cover appearance and dropped to 35 goals, 32 assists and -10 with seven missed games in the 2002-03 season.