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A Eulogy for NHL Eastside Hockey Manager
"He was a kind man, a loving man."

It should not have ended the way it did for NHL Eastside Hockey Manager. For what was, and still is, the most realistic managerial game of the sport, EHM should have had a much bigger impact on the hockey gaming scene.

At least, that was the expectation when creator Risto Remes partnered up with Sports Interactive in 2002. (Sports Interactive is the same company that molded Championship Manager/Football Manager into the gold standard of sports-management games.) The idea behind the partnership was to work on a fully fleshed out version of the game after years of releasing it as freeware. But it wasn’t to be, as after EHM 2007 was released, the series ceased development.

Despite not boasting as many features as its cousin Football Manager, EHM 2007 was a great game in its own right. This is the go-to game for any serious hockey-management fan looking to build, and rebuild, dynasties. While EA’s NHL series offers up a great simulation of the on-ice action, EHM 2007 is still where it’s at off of it.

"He offered so much to the world."

To this day, the game still possesses the most realistic trade engine seen in a hockey game. A team can go from being a projected contender during preseason that has gobbled up expensive veterans and their large contracts to a midseason pretender that is looking to offload those same veterans for draft picks at the trade deadline. AI GMs are also savvy enough to consider your team’s positional depth before trying to fleece you in a trade. So if you lack positional depth at some position, they might ask for the moon in a trade because you might need a goaltender, any goaltender. In hindsight, it’s really surprising (or sad, depending on your point of view) how the game nailed the supply and demand of the league’s trade machinations, while four years later, EA’s NHL series is still struggling to find that sweet spot.

Another thing that elevates EHM to the status of must-have for any hockey fan is the game’s database. The game world really is a world, with playable leagues from around the globe. If you wish, you can take control of the local peewee team and work your way up to the big leagues. You can even start your coaching career in Sweden with dreams of coaching the national team. It is entirely possible to play a whole virtual career without ever being in the NHL, if that’s how you want to play it, which just further details the depth present in this game.


Positively Holmgren-esque.

"The coroner said he was killed by a hook and a witty repartee on that fateful evening."

So why did it die such an inglorious death in 2007?

The official cause of death, according to Sports Interactive and Sega, the game’s publisher, is that rampant pirating of the game really cut into total sales.

Pardon me, but as the British say, there may just be a hint of bollocks in that response. While piracy may have contributed to the game’s demise, it just seems implausible that it was the death knell. The consensus amongst the EHM community -- and there are many, many stories about how one had never heard of the game until a friend suggested it to him/her on there -- is that poor marketing was what ultimately led to the game’s poor sales. This seems much more reasonable, as the problem perhaps wasn’t so much that too many folks resorted to piracy, it was that the game’s target audience wasn’t even reached in the first place.

Aside from a few instances of being included in a prize pack for some TV giveaway, there was virtually no publicity for EHM anywhere in Canada, arguably the hottest hotbed of hockey. This is a nation where TV executives thought it made sense to televise a five-hour NHL free-agency special on July 1 -- if there are folks in the world who can see the headline "Breaking News: Mark Mancari signs with Canucks for $525,000" and not chuckle with irony, it’s the hockey-obsessed Canadians.

So the Sega marketing team may have missed a key nation when it was mapping out its promotional strategy. And while I don’t know for sure, I’d be very, very surprised if it wasn’t the same case for the hockey states in the US.

(True story, the only reason I found out about the game was because I went onto Sports Interactive’s forums looking for a roster update for Championship Manager.)


Smirk.


"He left the world a better place."

By no means was EHM 2007 a perfect game -- the ability to execute three-team trades were sorely missed, and the 2-D game engine left a lot to be desired -- but the crowning achievement of the game was its ability to capture the excitement of being a GM during those special days on the calendar.

When you play EHM, you get excited every season as February approaches because the wheeling and dealing gets faster, more furious and more bizarre as the clock ticks towards the deadline, just like in real life. The same thing happens on draft day when it becomes a game of brinksmanship. Are other teams onto that diamond in the rough you have your eye on? Would it be a better idea to trade up and take him now? These are decisions you have to make, but you know you won't always make the right call. And so it goes, on and on for as many seasons as you want.

Simply put, EHM is one of those "just one more turn" games where you pull your eyes away from the screen just long enough to notice that it's actually four in the morning -- only the worst realization doesn't hit you until you realize you never actually left your room or put those pair of pants on that have been hanging over your chair for the last 14 hours.

It’s just too bad that too few have enjoyed that type of experience.


Kelvin Mak is the soccer writer here at Operation Sports. Residing in Toronto, Canada, his favo(u)rite sport is -- surprise -- soccer, and he religiously follows the Premier League. You can find him on OS under the user name kelvinmak, or in a bar in Toronto, usually after 2 p.m., under the name Pukey.

Member Comments
# 1 ASB37 @ 07/11/11 06:43 PM
I was just looking at some old EHM 07 threads, this series was one that I spent hours upon DAYS playing when I was younger. Never really got into it as much when it was being published by SI but man those freeware versions of EHM got played to DEATH by me. Great great article.

One can only wish that EA's NHL series can one day capture the dynasty logic and immersiveness that EHM offered.

Anyone know if EHM can be played on MAC and if there are still people out there updating the database and rosters, etc?
 
# 2 addybojangles @ 07/11/11 06:48 PM
Oh man, gotta echo ASB37's thoughts (coincidentally those are my initials...weird.): are people still updating the database and rosters?
 
# 3 drewst18 @ 07/11/11 06:48 PM
Awesome, It is truly a shame that this game was cancelled and I am one of those stories, I had not heard of the game until it had already been cancelled officially by SI Games.

The community is still going strong for this game, but in the near 5 years since EHM's last release there hasn't been anyone who could even carry Riz's skates when it comes to the making of a new game...

It really sucks when you look at how OOTP got picked up by SI Games, and was then cancelled and the rights were bought and it continues as by far the most successful non FM sim.

The difference why OOTP was picked up and why EHM will never be is what made the game so great, it was the hockey FM. The game was so closely similar to the FM engine that it will take more than the market value to pry it away from SI.

But as you said the game is still among the best hockey simulators and an active community keeps it alive with roster updates, and although they heavily dropped the ball on the online aspect, EHM 05 has a somewhat thriving online element that gives users looking for some non AI 30 real life GMs what they are looking for.
 
# 4 drewst18 @ 07/11/11 06:50 PM
sorry for double post guys...

I know OS doesn't want us advertising other sites, but since the question was asked...

you can find updated rosters (VERY well done, including aging every player) at:

http://www.ehmtheblueline.com
 
# 5 murph17 @ 07/11/11 07:30 PM
the recent release of iOOTP for iPhone makes me wish there was an EHM for iPhone/iPad.
 
# 6 druez @ 07/12/11 04:08 PM
Here is to hoping they bring this game back one day.

I bought it and I love it.
 
# 7 markmck @ 07/12/11 05:18 PM
Bought the game, still play it way too much and it was running when I stumbled across this article.

Would love to see this be brought back... it really offers playability beyond any other sports simulation that I've ever played before.

EHM for iPhone/iPad would be fantastic. I hope SEGA either resurrects the game or releases the rights so that someone can develop the game further.

Great seeing an article about my favorite sim! Thank you.
 
# 8 Keirik @ 07/12/11 10:10 PM
what i would like to see honestly is that they still let u buy the game, but at a more reasonable price now that it is 5 years old. They still want like 35 bucks for it.
 
# 9 kelvinmak @ 07/12/11 10:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keirik
what i would like to see honestly is that they still let u buy the game, but at a more reasonable price now that it is 5 years old. They still want like 35 bucks for it.
Yeah I don't get it either, it's pretty silly.

Macheads get screwed over worse though-- if they don't have bootcamp I'm pretty sure they're SOL even if they're willing to fork out the 35.
 
# 10 rdnk @ 07/13/11 01:22 AM
There is so much good stuff in this game that could be utilized in the EA franchise. Better drafting, free agency, trade engine that's realistic (this is key), the whole regen idea is great (that or preplanned draft classes a la HC09), the removal of the "overall" and "potential" rating, ect. Too bad we'll see none of this...
 
# 11 tabulaRasa @ 07/13/11 05:04 AM
Apparently then stopped making it because the piracy was so insane. But itīs PC, so what to expect.
 
# 12 Prometheus @ 07/13/11 10:27 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keirik
what i would like to see honestly is that they still let u buy the game, but at a more reasonable price now that it is 5 years old. They still want like 35 bucks for it.
I'm thinking the same thing. This game should be $10.00 at the most considering it's age.

Does anyone know what became of the game's original designer? I wonder if he could develop a similiar game outside of Sega. Maybe the whole experience soured him, though.
 
# 13 druez @ 07/14/11 09:51 AM
I'm pretty sure Riz works at SI Games still but on the FM franchise.
 
# 14 Qb @ 07/15/11 10:04 AM
If only I could get the IT guy to install this on my work PC... then I could get fired within a week after doing absolutely nothing work related.
 
# 15 archibalduk @ 07/15/11 02:17 PM
I've most probably played more of EHM 2007 that any other game I've owned. Five years since it's cancellation and the EHM community is still going strong. I don't want to spam OS so I won't mention the URL (Drewst18 mentioned it above), but I've been running an EHM fan site for just over seven years. Even now the community is very busy. There are so many people still interested in EHM. It's such a shame SI hasn't picked up the game again. I have to agree with article - it was poor marketing and not piracy that harmed sales. I've heard mention before that in fact the eLicense system (the copy protection EHM used - as does OOTP) is extremely difficult to crack.

To answer addjbojangle's question; there is still a roster update available for EHM. Do a Google search for "manimal/lidas roster update 2011/12" and you'll find it.
 
# 16 kelvinmak @ 07/15/11 06:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by archibalduk
I've most probably played more of EHM 2007 that any other game I've owned. Five years since it's cancellation and the EHM community is still going strong. I don't want to spam OS so I won't mention the URL (Drewst18 mentioned it above), but I've been running an EHM fan site for just over seven years. Even now the community is very busy. There are so many people still interested in EHM. It's such a shame SI hasn't picked up the game again. I have to agree with article - it was poor marketing and not piracy that harmed sales. I've heard mention before that in fact the eLicense system (the copy protection EHM used - as does OOTP) is extremely difficult to crack.

To answer addjbojangle's question; there is still a roster update available for EHM. Do a Google search for "manimal/lidas roster update 2011/12" and you'll find it.
Hey Archibalduk, thanks for linking to our article on TheBlueLine (No worries, they can't fire me... oh crap, they can) much appreciated!

I'm a long time lurker on your site, and the sheer amount of updates the contributors have on there is just... awesome.

But yeah, I'm one of those who just played this game to death. It's a shame that with the success of distributing games through Steam, SI hasn't restarted the engines on EHM yet. Just imagine the game with half the features that exist on FM (Player interaction, agents, etc.)... I suppose we can keep dreaming.
 
# 17 archibalduk @ 07/16/11 02:44 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelvinmak
Hey Archibalduk, thanks for linking to our article on TheBlueLine (No worries, they can't fire me... oh crap, they can) much appreciated!

I'm a long time lurker on your site, and the sheer amount of updates the contributors have on there is just... awesome.

But yeah, I'm one of those who just played this game to death. It's a shame that with the success of distributing games through Steam, SI hasn't restarted the engines on EHM yet. Just imagine the game with half the features that exist on FM (Player interaction, agents, etc.)... I suppose we can keep dreaming.
Thanks for your kind comments! Nice to hear you visit TBL.

There's an awful lot of us who keep on dreaming! I know Riz and his team were planning on creating an OOTP-like level of customisation for the next EHM. That would have been the icing on the cake. We sorely need that sort of flexibility in the game - indeed even a customisable starting date would be nice.

I couldn't agree more about Steam. If only SI would reconsider the game in light of this. There is still plenty of demand/interest for the game. At least in the meantime there's the possibility that FaceOff Hockey by Wolverine Sports may eventually have an EHM-style career mode. There's also the Dabo Hockey Manager community-based project. Fingers crossed that one/both of these succeed.

Please do keep promoting EHM on OS (and I'd happily contribute/assist OS with this). Perhaps if enough people show interest in the game then SI (or even another developer) might reconsider.
 
# 18 woody2goody @ 07/19/11 08:03 AM
It's a great game, I played 07 so so much over the first couple of years I had it. I had EHM 2005 as well which was the lockout season.

It was such a good simulation of hockey managenment, and even though the actual match engine was a bit flawed (to me at least), simming the games gave great results and the overall experience was just excellent.

I wish someone would resurrect it in the future, you never know!
 
# 19 archibalduk @ 07/20/11 03:44 AM
Sadly I have been very reliably informed that EHM 2007 is no longer on sale via eLicense (this was the only place it could be purchased). It will not be put up for sale on any other digital download store - I believe this is due to the inevitable legal issues around licensing etc. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news

Those who have already purchased a copy will still be able to reactivate your licenses should you need to reinstall the game at any point.
 

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