VANCOUVER - Fresh from their Stanley Cup triumph, Chicago Blackhawks teammates Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will grace the cover of the "NHL 16" video game.
Both players have been the face of EA Sports' hit franchise before.
Kane was on the cover of "NHL 10" in 2009 while Toews was featured on "NHL 11" in 2010. The two teammates were featured together in an ad for "NHL 11."
It's the first time in the history of the video game franchise that the cover has featured two teammates as well as the Stanley Cup. Kane and Toews are also the only athletes to appear on the franchise cover twice.
"The two of us have had a lot of success with our team and been fortunate to be in a great place and take advantage of some opportunities," Toews said in an interview Wednesday. "Here we are getting the chance to be on the cover of a video game again, which is pretty awesome. Something we never expected, but it's pretty cool."
EA Sports says having both players together embodies the new game's emphasis on team play. The new game's slogan is "Play Together, Win Together."
The last three versions of the made-in-Vancouver game have used a fan vote to determine the cover athlete. The winners were Boston's Patrice Bergeron for "NHL 15," New Jersey's Martin Brodeur for "NHL 14" and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux for "NHL 13."
There was no vote this year. Instead, EA simply said the cover athlete was one of the many players featured in its official E3 game-play trailer.
The 27-year-old Toews, a Winnipeg native, said he grew up playing video games.
"My mum and dad tried to make us play outside once in a while but they let us have some fun and play video games and play hockey is what we wanted to do. We loved the NHL EA Sports game."
Toews marvelled at the look of the game, which will even feature playoff beards in the new version. "It's amazing what they can do with the technology in these games."
It's been a blur for the Hawks captain since winning the Cup.
"It's been amazing. The city just comes alive when we win," he said. "It was very very special to win on home ice. And then ever since then it's just been a crazy whirlwind every night of different scenes, different places. People really want to be a part of it.
"As crazy as it is, it's what we want. We're running on not much sleep. But it's stuff we have to enjoy and just experience because you never know when it's going to happen again."
"NHL 16" is scheduled for release in North America on Sept. 15 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Also Wednesday, Toews was named the recipient of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which is awarded to a player "in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in his community."
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