Good morning fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, dedicated fans of mine, and others who found this story on Google or your search engine of choice!

We are still suffering through the dregs of August and my struggle to find things to write about is real. However, my good friends on the NHL 20 team invited me to go try out the game and talk about what’s coming up in the newest version. If you have followed me on Twitter you may have heard me vent my frustrations at how single player modes of video games have been cast aside for online micro-transaction heavy multiplayer modes.

I get it, you want to make money and having people buy skins and card packs and the like brings more of that in than me simming through season after season of franchise mode while I watch Top Gear re-runs on my laptop (Dad Life to the extreme!).

I don’t have time to get good at online games, nor do I want to spend actual money on pretend hockey cards - I get in enough trouble when I bring home a shoe box full of actual cards. However, I do have time to adjust the prices of hot dogs at virtual concession stands so maybe I’m a liar.

Last week I went to Toronto and visited the NHL 20 media tour to find out more about the upcoming game. If you want to find out more about my trip you can follow the Twitter thread here:

So, my first questions went right to whats up with single player. I asked right away about how Live the Life was removed after NHL 16. I loved this mode, where you as a player had a post-game scrum with questions to answer after games, you could track your popularity in the dressing room, with fans, your family, and management. You got offered sponsorship's and charity events, could choose to go on team bonding events or go to museums. A real RPG element to the game added a whole depth to the world, and made your player more like you, rather then just play game after game after game.

Sadly, the NHL series isn’t Madden or FIFA, and without those sales numbers you don’t get the budgets to go along with them. Decisions were made when moving to the next generation consoles and the focus was moved to online play.

Some improvements were made; last year introduced a stronger scouting system to Franchise Mode where you could hire and manage scouts around the world. It’s a neat feature that adds a challenge you didn’t have in previous modes where you could just memorize which players were best to draft.

In that vein, they’ve added the ability to hire and fire coaches for your team.

You coach shapes how your lines are made and makes you pick which path you want to go down - do you build around your coach’s style, or do you pick your coach based on your players? You can also conduct job interviews with coaches, so if you’re a total nerd like me you can add simulated HR practices to your hockey game!

If any angry Leafs fans are wondering, no, they aren’t actual NHL coaches so you can’t fire Mike Babcock as soon as you turn on franchise mode.

Trading is also harder to do - bad contracts require sweeteners like first round picks, player values decrease as their contracts go down so you can’t dump expiring stars at the deadline and come away with an entire first round of picks.

But it’s easier too, just pick who you want to to trade and the game will search for options for you. That’s nice because going team by team got a bit frustrating after a while.

No guarantees you won’t get fired as GM after you win a cup though, which I’m still mad about by the way Leafs, but whatever.

There aren’t big changes coming to creative mode this year. Nothing major, aside from maybe a new logo or two? I also asked about why not all logos are available in the ‘Vintage logos’ or why AHL/CHL logos aren’t available but ECHL ones are.

It came down to two reasons - one is money. You have to license things and that adds up. Another is teams have control over what gets used and what doesn’t. Sometimes they don’t want old logos in the game, the Ducks probably don’t want you remaking the team with the duck mask logo and eggplant/teal. Not everyone has wizened up to what a mistake it was to re-brand post-Disney.

What are the big changes, you may be asking?

Well, online play keeps the HUT modes and EASHL, but adds a Fornite like twist to World of Chel (I’m old and hate chel but the way. I just hate it). Half-hour mini tournaments are the big new addition where the first player/team out of 81 to win four games in a row is the winner. There are weekly challenges that get you new gear for your avatar, multiple locations to play in, and somethings that may actually get me to play online. I do love getting achievements and rewards in games. At the risk of spending another 800 words on something I haven’t played a lot of yet (but would like to play a lot and have a review ready for launch day hint hint) here’s the trailer:

NHL 20 seems to be a game where you can play hockey, and that’s all I ask for. That and the ability to make the Lightning wear these jerseys again. One out of two isn’t bad I guess.

Here’s what happened over the weekend:

Carolina Hurricanes sign Chase Priskie to two-year entry level contract

TWO YEARS for a guy with no NHL experience. That’s madness.

A Year Without Ivan Barbashev

I could make a joke about the Blues getting worse and oh how sad it would be for the Cup Champions, but really I barely remember they exist most of the time so news like this is a good reminder.

Expansion Plan: Projecting the Toronto Maple Leafs’ protection list for the 2021 expansion draft - TheHockeyNews

Ah, summer filler content.

Back to Excited Episode 71: Resource Allocation

You know what’s not filler? Back to Excited! A new podcast to start your week off with.

Best thing a Bruin could do besides retire.

Canucks extending Benning shows ownership’s belief in long-term plan

Praise be to the Canucks for this move. If only the Wild could have kept Fenton.

That’s all I got for you all. Do your best today, do something nice for someone, and enjoy the day.