When you pick up a copy of NHL 2004 don't be surprised when you don't see Thrashers RW Dany Heatley on the cover.
EA Sports has elected to replace Heatley with Avalanche C Joe Sakic. The decision was made after Heatley was involved in a preseason car accident in which teammate Dan Snyder was killed.
Shortly after the decision was made public, EA released the following statement: "Our deepest sympathies go to the family of Dan Snyder and to our longtime friend Dany Heatley. Considering the circumstances, we decided it would be inappropriate to bring any more attention to Dany by featuring him in our advertising campaigns. Dany's image will stay on copies of the game that have already been printed. Reprints of the game will feature Joe Sakic. Terms of the agreement remain confidential. This has been a tragic event for everyone involved."
This may seem extreme for a game that's been on store shelves for over two months, but Jeff Brown, Vice President of Corporate Communication for Electronic Arts adds that "sports games sell throughout the entire year. Re-orders are produced on an as needed basis. Due to regulatory issues, we cannot forecast the performance of individual titles."
And while many gamers will tell you that they don't buy Madden because of Michael Vick and ESPN NBA Basketball because of Allen Iverson, Brown notes that EA's "concern was for the well being of Dany and the Snyder family."