Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
It's nothing personal, it's just the price of business. Byufglien had a career year for the Atlanta Thrashers after it was told he would struggle in his move from forward to defenseman.
Byfuglien had career highs in goals (20) and points (53) in a year coming off a Stanley Cup victory with the Chicago Blackhawks. His play was enough for Thrashers management to sign him to a five-year contract extension.
The issue with Byfuglien here is that he is in Atlanta, a team that is potentially on the move to Winnipeg as early as this year, though those talks are still ongoing.
Imagine an Atlanta Thrashers jersey on the cover of a video game being released when the team doesn't exist (or exists elsewhere). I don't think the NHL and EA Sports would do that, unless talks die down and the Thrashers are safe and sound in Atlanta but in my opinion, none of that matters, the Thrashers aren't marketable and will continue to be.
If they were, Kovalchuk would've made at least one cover and the last time a Thrashers player made the cover, it was Dany Heatley with NHL '04 and it had to be pulled due to the bad press he got following the car accident that claimed the life of Dan Snyder and even then, Heatley wasn't the original choice.
Sharks forward Joe Thornton was but the NHL switched to Heatley following an incident in 2003 where Thornton (then a member of the Boston Bruins) was accused of assaulting two police officers.
Yes, I am turning this one into the marketability of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise but I digress. Despite the great year Byfuglien had, he won't be the cover athlete for NHL '12.