Get on the rink
This is the first in a series of four hockey management simulators that continued until NHL Eastside Hockey Manager 2007 and while later installments expanded on the basic setup, this actually remains probably the best entry in the franchise. This one offers a pretty deep managerial experience and is a far cry from the likes of more arcade-oriented offering such as the early NHL Hockey games such as NHL 95. The player here takes control of an NHL team (or one in an entirely fictional league created in the editor) and must take them to the top by honing their skills and picking the bets lineup. The game takes a very backseat approach to its theme, with the player picking players, trading them and so, and thus focuses very much on the board room rather than the rink, so if you like getting hands on, then this is perhaps not the game for you. Actual matches are viewed via a play-by-play mode which has all the excitement of watching a game on TV and despite the lack of interaction, it remains quite a dramatic way of doing things. As far as hockey management games go, this is top notch stuff. The presentation is as detailed as you could hope for, with all the expected options and more, so there is rarely any shortage of things to do or to tweak. There is plenty of depth here too for you to get your teeth into and it really is immensely satisfying building your team and then watching them come together as a single unit to become all-conquering heroes. Visually, the game is decent rather than spectacular but it's got it where it counts and anyone looking for an ice hockey management sim would be well advised to look here.