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Cats EA NHL '09 rankings released. Befuddlement follows.

The way-creepy image above is, as best I can tell, captain Nathan Horton...with a muskrat on his head. Oh wait...that's captain Mike Van Ryn. Um, the uniform number is either 16 or 26, I'm leaning toward 26, a number that, translated from Swahili, literally means "wrists of scar tissue".

In any case, the adrogynous player above is but one of the Cats represented with startling realism - captaincy issues notwithstanding - in the soon to be released 2008-09 edition of EA Sports' NHL series.

Puck Daddy does a terrific job stirring the pot for the masses (Ovie v. Bing, etc.), so I figured a quick perusal of the Panthers virtual lineup was due.

Perhaps Mr. Mediocre really IS the captain? He certainly learned from the best.

The players are, as expected, ranked in many various categories; I'm only interested in the Holy Grail-ish "Overall" rating.

  • Highest rated player on the club? With an overall number of 87, the best Panther is: Mike Van Ryn. Seriously. Tied with soon-to-be-former Cat and seven-plus-million-dollar-man Jay Bouwmeester. Whatev.

  • Among forwards, "Nate the Uninspired" trumps Stephen Weiss by a single point, 85 to 84.

  • In the crease, Vokoooooun, as real-life demands, bests Andy in every category. Richly-deserved kudos are given to the backup netminder, however, for this.

  • Our big splash in the free-agency market? Cory Stillman garners an 83. Or the same as Richard Zednik (!).

  • Best faceoff man? Brett McLean with a 79.

  • From the Bang-Your-Head-Against-A-Fencepost category: Radek Dvorak, 80. David Booth, 77. Our Dvorak?

  • Wade Belak leads in the toughness arena with a 94, followed by Nick Boynton and his 88.

  • For all that is good in heaven, keep Booth out of the faceoff circle (

  • In light of J-Bo's status, presumptive #1 D-man Keith Ballard weighs in with an impressive 85, plus he's a colossal open-ice hip-checker. Boynton, 75, but he's a hard hitter.

Since I don't as yet actually possess a Playstation3, I will have to simply assume this game kicks at least as much rear-end as last-year's model. Can't wait to see it up close.

Oh and for those Chops fans: