With every passing day, it seems that EA Sports is doing all they can to cover every possible base with NHL 12. After a complete overhaul of the game’s physics system with the intention of bringing all new levels of realism, the latest in the series looks to be the most advanced yet. But in case you old-timers were thinking that your chances to re-live the glory days had passed, the latest trailer for NHL 12 is teasing the return of some of the league’s most legendary players.

There’s certainly no shortage of talented young stars populating the game, and current fans of NHL hockey have more than a few reasons to take notice of this year’s release. Forget the fact that the game’s AI is now able to anticipate a developing play as well as a real human being, or even that the new physics mechanics will allow players to move and skate like never before.

The development team is obviously making the most realistic imitation of hockey possible their long term goal, but that doesn’t mean that the magic of the sport is lost on them. Any sports fan can immediately list off the Hall of Fame members who hold special places in their heart, and gamers are no different.

It’s part of the reason that 2K Sports let players step into the monumental shoes of Michael Jordan for NBA 2K11, challenging average joes to match the feats of basketball’s greatest star. The resulting addition to gameplay was both nostalgic and a new form of difficulty, and it seems that hockey fans may be able to look forward to the same tasks.

But forget having just one legendary hockey player to embody. Now GameTrailers has gotten their hands on the latest ‘Legends’ trailer for NHL 12 showing that the Hall of Famers are coming en force:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sc-sfMjKhM

Hockey fans will immediately notice the helmet-less Red Wing Gordie Howe, the immovable Blackhawk Chris Chelios, and ‘Super’ Mario Lemieux’s infamous puck-handling. But what group of legends would be complete without the flowing locks and tucked jersey of ‘The Great One’ Wayne Gretzky? The closing montage of players teases even more players to come, but EA is off to a strong start.

It’s hard to tell if the players will simply be custom characters shipped with the game, or an indication of a completely separate game mode. Previous editions of the NHL series have featured an entire team of Montreal Canadiens legends, so this collection of several different players from across the league hints at something else entirely. Whether that’s a mode similar to NBA 2K that challenges players to put up the same stats as Gretzky or Lemieux throughout a season, or one game at a time isn’t clear just yet.

It seems that EA really is committed to taking the personality and style of each player and injecting it into their digital copies. With Howe shown fighting Boston’s Milan Lucic, and Chelios standing his defensive ground, it could be a sign that the developers have managed to capture each legend’s unique style of play. That may be a lot to hope for, but that won’t stop fans from dreaming.

What other players do you hope to see return? Any theories on what other legends are shown in the silhouette? Leave your guesses in the comments.

NHL 12 will be bringing old and new to the Xbox 360 and PS3 on September 13, 2011.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

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