During NHL 2004's development and release, EA had to make two different cover athlete changes. Boston Bruin's captain Joe Thornton was the original planned cover athlete until Thornton was brought up on assault charges. EA replaced Thornton with Atlanta Thrashers player Dany Heatley when the game was first shipped out. However, Heatley was later involved in a car crash that killed his teammate Dan Snyder. After this, EA once again changed the cover athlete to Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic. Existing copies of the game remained on store shelves, though further productions and advertising for the game were switched to Sakic.
When creating a new player, using the name "Gabe Metal" from the band Gob, will cause the game to crash.