Travel to a country still in 2004 and meet the people who refuse to let EA Sports ‘NHL ’04’ die – The Athletic

In the town of Längelmäki, on the shores of one of Finland’s 188,000 lakes, there is a hut where it is still 2004.

Every spring, The Original Six’s GMs do it. They are new now, but the name of their club remains unchanged. When something works, you stick to it.

It’s the state of mind that keeps them coming back – to cities like Jyväskylä and Tampere, once a year, Thursday through Sunday. They swim. They sauna. They grill tuna and drink lager beers.

These are appetizers and props, however. They’re in the booth playing a computer game that EA Sports threw in the trash almost two decades ago – a game older than Shane Wright, the consensus No.1 pick in the summer draft. next.

The Original Six, all nine, are part of an even larger community: the DIY enthusiasts, enthusiasts and obsessives behind what’s known as “NHL 04 Rebuilt,” an almost large-scale reinvention of what many believe to be. the greatest hockey game. of all time, drawn from the past and kept fresh, vital and current by sheer force of will.

It’s “NHL 2004” with everything from 2021 – the players, arenas, shirts, goal horns, pre-game ceremonies – included in a huge downloadable series of “patches”. If you want to play as Cale Makar, or the Seattle Kraken, or the Climate Pledge Arena, or in the new alternate Penguins jerseys, you can. If you want to change the physics of the game or incorporate rule changes that came after the 2003-04 season, you can.

For those who like it, it works. So they stick to it.

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