Hit the rink with these NHL iPhone apps

Oct 19, 2010
Misc

The NHL has long been considered the least-popular of America’s “Big Four” sports leagues, but in the App Store it can go toe-to-toe with any league. Not only are there an impressive number of options for hockey fans, but very few will cost you either an arm or a leg. The 2010-11 season is just […]

The NHL has long been considered the least-popular of America’s “Big Four” sports leagues, but in the App Store it can go toe-to-toe with any league. Not only are there an impressive number of options for hockey fans, but very few will cost you either an arm or a leg.

The 2010-11 season is just underway, so it’s time to run down the essential apps for following all the bone-jarring hits and dramatic, game-winning goals that are sure to come.

NHL GameCenter 2010

NHL GameCenter 2010 is comparable to the king of officially licensed league apps – MLB.com At Bat – in that it is an officially licensed app, but that’s about it. It is actually pretty close to the similarly named NFL Game Center, offering the bare necessities, but little else. So if you want live scores, standings, news and stats, then this is the app for you. There are also individual team sections with rosters, stats and schedules, as well as push notifications and a nice design. Unfortunately, there are no multimedia features, but this is a free download, so that is kind of expected. Like other official league apps this is a solid release, but unlike the MLB, NBA and NFL’s releases it is not clear that this is the be-all and end-all of hockey apps.

The Hockey News

Before there was an official NHL app, there was The Hockey News. Released in 2008, THN has been downloaded more than 500,000 times, and developed a good reputation among iPhone-owning hockey fanatics. Like GameCenter, this app offers the essentials, such as live scores, player stats, standings and analysis from THN’s web site. But what might put this free app over the top is the addition of the VIP program, a $1.99 (per month) in-app subscription service that provides video features and real-time alerts. As for the negatives, the app’s interface is decent enough, but not as nice as GameCenter, and there are not quite as many stats. Still, given that most everything offered by The Hockey News can be accessed without the subscription service, this app is worth the download and a test run or two.

CBC Hockey

GameCenter is not the only official hockey app, what with the official app for Hockey Night in Canada – CBC Hockey – also available. Again, this free download will help you follow the league with all the basics, but unlike GameCenter and THN this one does include video content, such as game highlights and Don Cherry’s “Coaches Corner” segment. But the bigger news is that CBC Hockey also allows you to watch full games for $2.99 (or $19.99 for the full season, limited to CBC broadcast games), so this app has, by far, the most multimedia features. I am not a fan of the design, which is sort of reminiscent of CBS- and NBC-released sports apps in that there is simply too much going on. But that’s a matter of preference, and given that this is another free download, you might as well check it out for yourself.

2K Sports NHL 2K11

Distinctive Wireless’ Hockey Nations 2010 was a welcome site in the App store simply because it was the first full hockey game for iOS devices. And as nice a game as it is, who knew the next step in iOS hockey gaming – 2K Sports NHL 2K11 – would be such a large one? The first app release from 2K Sports allows you to play a full NHL season with real players from all 30 teams. The presentation of the game is a particular highlight, with multiple camera angles to go along with nice graphics. The controls are good, but not great, and (as is typical with sports games for this device) the gameplay is a little more arcade than simulation, but neither detracts from what amounts to a fun game. Regularly $1.99, NHL 2K11 is on sale for 99 cents to celebrate the start of the season, and whether you get it for the sale price or the regular price this is a must-own for hockey (and sports) gamers.

Fantasy Hockey Monster ’10

ESPN and Yahoo! have been good at offering apps for their baseball and football services, though fantasy hockey users have been left out in the cold. Fortunately Fantasy Hockey Monster ’10 allows you to access your ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, and while it does not quite offer everything the web sites do, it comes very close. You can track your team, perform player transactions, and check your league’s message board, though things like drafting are not part of the app. Even as a longtime supporter of MyFantasy Teams, I have to admit the look of Fantasy Monster is much, much better, as it’s easier to read player news, and navigate your way around the app. The full version costs $2.99, while there is a free lite version that does not include player transactions and includes ads.

Official team apps

For a league with so many good league-wide apps, it should come as no surprise there are just as many nice team apps. Official New York Rangers has plenty of news and a video section, though it’s a little light on stats. Official Detroit Red Wings has enough stats and even a standings section, the only issue has been problems with the latest software update. Pittsburgh Penguins Mobile and Toronto Maple Leafs are probably the two best team-based apps, each with tons of content and video features. There is also the self-explanatory Dallas Stars Media Guide and Canucks, which offers live scores and multimedia goodies. Even better news? All these apps are free.

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