You might remember last year that EA Sports, thanks to the protestations of a little girl from Buffalo (presumably so a girl could beat her brother in both real life and in the game), added women to the Create a Pro option. I covered this on my site, Thrashing the Blues, and I wasn't exactly thrilled with how they turned out. Let's just say they were a little too Ivan Drago for my liking, but hey, thems the breaks when you're working with a video game. At least the thought was there — women, while not a significant portion of the gaming population — do play video games. I've been playing games since I was 7, and I've been playing EA Sports' NHL franchise since NHL 94.
Do I think women necessarily need to be represented in a game that is based on a league that is all guys? No, but the concept of it is cool and it's nice that EA's including them. This year in the Legends mode, you'll be able to play as either Team Canada captain Hayley Wickenheiser or Team USA defensewoman Angela Ruggiero. The two legends teams will even be named after them a la the All Star game style, and you can play as them in Be A Pro mode or you can put them on your favorite team.
The question of how they stack up to the guys is one that I, and probably quite a few gamers, have. Women's physiques are obviously different than guys' — duh, we've all had health class. This tends to make women not as powerful, fast, etc. If you have Wickenheiser out there leveling Scott Hartnell with a massive body check along the boards, it detracts from the realism, or what realism is left once you realize you have a woman on your favorite team.
But hey, it's just a game. As worked up as we all get about the rosters being accurate or how Ryan Miller is the top ranked goalie, you have to let it slide at some point. This advancement, much like the women in BAP mode, will give the girls that dreamed of hoisting the Cup as kids as close of a chance that they can have to do so. It's all in good fun, and you have to appreciate EA's recoignizing of womens' sports.
Next step: women avatars for your EA Sports accounts.