Anyone who knows anything about anything knows that NHL '96 is far superior to NHL '94 in every conceivable way, and also in every way currently inconceivable to the human mind. Of course, NHL '94 is more popular thanks to some classic scenes from the film Swingers, and that's okay, because it's still a great game. This being the 20th anniversary of the game, EA Sports did something cool, and included a NHL '94 "Anniversary Mode" in this year's NHL '14.
NHL '94 Anniversary Mode won't let you use those rosters from bygone days, but it will let you use the modern rosters in a slightly-modernized version of NHL '94. This gives us the opportunity to compare the two. Any while it might be slightly comical, it should also be fun. Is there any Senators player on NHL '94 that you'd rather have than on NHL '14?
First, let's look at the Senators overall from our friends at the venerable NHL94.com:
That's about right. NHL '14 doesn't offer similar evaluations, so we'll make some up.
Home Arena: Canadian Tire Center
Home Ice Advantage: Moderate, assuming opponent is not Toronto or Montreal
Road Ice Advantage: Moderate
Power Play: Moderate (The Senators were 20th overall last season; that number should increase this season, but is not guaranteed to break the top 10.)
Penalty Killing: Outstanding (The Senators were 1st overall last season, and will add talent to that group.)
Overall, this year's Senators are much better than their counterparts. No surprises there. But what about at the individual level?
Craig Anderson (86) vs. Peter Sidorkiewicz (40) - If you control your goalies manually--and if you don't, you're a chump--you know how crucial as reasonably competent goalie is. A 40 rating is a joke, making Sidorkiewicz essentially useless. With an 86 rating for Anderson, the specific skill rating breakdown is meaningless; every game is winnable. Using Sidorkiewicz , it's a victory if you only give up three goals.
Erik Karlsson (88) vs. Norm Maciver (61) - In real life, Maciver holds a record over Karlsson Mark knows nothing about anything. But in game, no one but Maciver would pick Maciver over Karlsson.
Mark Methot (83) vs. Brad Shaw (51) - Despite the numbers, I'm tempted to go with Shaw here. In video games, I like my defensemen thuggish, and I don't think Methot's skills actually translate well to a video game. I'm willing to bet Shaw has a better hitting rating, and that's all I need to create a turnover.
Jason Spezza (88) vs. Bob Kudelski (60) - If this were Alexei Yashin, I would probably go with Yashin, but I can't be convinced to use Kudelski over Spezza while sober.
Bobby Ryan (87) vs. Jamie Baker (59) - Since I love to shoot, this is probably the easiest comparison of the entire lot. There are very few forwards in all of NHL '94 I would take over Ryan.
Milan Michalek (85) vs. Sylvain Turgeon (60) - This one is tough. I have mad love for Turgeon from NHL '96. I wasn't thrilled with the NHL '96 version of Michalek I used in last year's playoff previews. I know what I have in Turgeon. But with Spezza and Ryan as my other top line, I don't need Michalek to do much except not suck. So, I'll take Michalek.
This pattern repeats itself down the line, much as you'd expect. The NHL '94 Ottawa Senators are a wasteland completely bereft of any semblance of talent. On an individual level, you'd take the player from the NHL '14 roster nearly every single time. But overall, I think I prefer the NHL '94 roster. Some people get enjoyment from dominating opponents; I am not one of them. My entertainment comes from overcoming long odds. Give me the ultimate challenge. Proving you're the best doesn't mean anything when you should beat the other guy. Proving you're the best means you can do it when every single odd is against you. The fun is in not in dominating, it's in rising to the occasion. For that, the NHL '94 roster offers an appeal the NHL '14 roster can't match.
In real life, though, I'm deeply grateful to watch the team we have.