LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Like a lot of kids, Patrice Bergeron grew up playing sports video games.
Now he has a cover all to himself.
The Boston Bruins centre beat out Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban in the final of a 1-on-1 online fan vote for the right to headline the latest edition of EA Sports’ “NHL15” franchise.
“I have great memories of that game and never in a million years did I imagine that I’d one day be on the cover,” said Bergeron. “It’s pretty surreal.”
The results were announced Tuesday during the NHL awards show where Bergeron won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward.
Fans were able to vote until June 1 via social media on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #NHL15Bergeron and #NHL15Subban.
“It is pretty amazing,” said Bergeron. “If you look at all the past winners, it’s very humbling to now be part of that list.”
Despite not even having a Twitter account of his own, Bergeron got the nod in part because the Bruins used their official feed to rally fans.
“It’s kind of weird that I don’t have Twitter and I still won, but I had a lot of help and I’m really grateful for that,” said Bergeron. “The whole voting thing—even if I would have lost, I think it’s just great for the game and great for the NHL.”
Subban, meanwhile, has nearly 420,000 Twitter followers and garnered huge support—including former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre—but it wasn’t enough.
Bergeron, who played video games up until he was in junior hockey, got a preview of “NHL15” recently and was stunned at how much the Electonic Arts game has improved since he used to take on friends and teammates.
“It’s been a while since I played. I was amazed,” said the 28-year-old. “I can’t believe in 10 years how much has changed. It’s so realistic now.”
Bergeron grew up in a suburb of Quebec City and recalled playing as the Nordiques in some of the video game’s earlier incarnations.
“I always wanted to be Joe Sakic and try to make him score,” Bergeron said with a laugh. “I think Sakic probably had the best season of his career when I was playing the game.”
Despite losing the cover vote, Subban still has bragging rights on the ice after the Canadiens downed the Bruins in Game 7 of their second-round series this past spring.
The soft-spoken Bergeron is a stark contrast to the flashier Subban, but the pair got to know each other as teammates in the leadup to Canada’s gold-medal winning performance at the Sochi Olympics.
“I’m definitely a player that doesn’t like all the attention but I’m very grateful for the support that I’ve received from all fans and for them to vote for me,” said Bergeron. “It means a lot. When you play hockey you want to do it for yourself, for your teammates, but also for your fans and to get recognized like that is pretty special.”