Former UMass star Cale Makar named cover athlete for NHL ’24 video game

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (8) looks on against the Seattle Kraken during the second period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in April. AP FILE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/16/2023 4:44:40 PM

Former UMass hockey star Cale Makar can now add another achievement to his ever-growing list.

Earlier this week, EA Sports took to social media to announce that Makar will be on the cover of NHL 24 — the latest edition of the sport’s premier video game. The game is set to release on Oct. 6, and Makar said he is thrilled to be featured on the cover of a game he grew up playing.

“It's so cool,” Makar told ESPN. “When they were considering me to be a part of this, it was just kinda like a 'wow' moment. You grow up, you play all these games.”

The three-time NHL All Star has been nothing short of remarkable in his short four-year career with the Colorado Avalanche. In 2022, Makar’s regular season efforts were rewarded with the James Norris Memorial Trophy. That postseason, he helped the Avalanche lift the Stanley Cup trophy while tallying a team-high 29 points in 20 playoff games. Makar earned the Conn Smythe Trophy – awarded to the most valuable player of the NHL playoffs – in 2022 to cap off his incredible season.

“Colorado Avalanche superstar defenseman Cale Makar, whose world class on-ice skills exemplify the type of hard-checking and game-changing features that will be a part of EA SPORTS NHL 24, has been named the cover athlete for this year’s game,” EA Sports said in its press release on Wednesday.

Despite being in the NHL for less than a half decade, Makar has already received high praise from some of the game’s biggest names. Arguably the greatest player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, claimed Makar to be “the closest player we’ve ever seen offensively and defensively” to Bobby Orr, a Boston Bruins legend. Head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights Bruce Cassidy echoed Gretzky’s sentiments, saying on a podcast that Makar is “a modern-day Bobby Orr,” and went on to mention just how difficult he is to game plan against because of his unique skill set.

While these comparisons are certainly nice to hear, Makar does his best to remain grounded and motivated – knowing there is still plenty for him to accomplish throughout the rest of his career.

“It's hard for me to comprehend that. I'm 24,” Makar told ESPN earlier this month. “The amount that he accomplished in his career is pretty much insurmountable. I'm nowhere near that point yet. Obviously, a comparison is a comparison. But for me, [I'm] just kind of bringing it down to earth a little bit.”

Makar starred for the UMass hockey team for two seasons, helping the Minutemen to their first-ever Frozen Four in 2019 and winning the Hobey Baker Award given to the top NCAA men's ice hockey player. He was the Avalanche’s fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.


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