Rumors of a new Microsoft video game console are rife at the moment, but that hasn’t stopped the technology giant from continuing to support the Xbox 360 with new multimedia apps such as NHL GameCenter, which is launching today on Xbox Live according to majornelson.com.

The app, available to download only for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, will give users the chance to stream all of their favourite ice hockey matches from their video game console. NHL GameCenter features real-time game scores, player stats and team standings for free, as well as the ability to watch some of the best goals, saves and hits from all over the league using the NHL VideoCenter feature.

nhl screen NHL GameCenter launches on Xbox Live, offering live HD games, split screen viewing and more

If you’re prepated to fork out an extra $49.99 for an NHL GameCenter LIVE subscription, you’ll also be able to watch ‘out-of-market’ games live throughout the season. In addition, games that have already been played can be watched either in full, or as condensed replays. The latter will be available not only for the season which is about to start, but also the one from last year too.

Each stream will be available in high-definition, although it hasn’t been specified yet whether that means 1080p or a lower resolution, such as 1080i or 720p. However, each match will also include the option to hear the home or away commentary, which is a huge bonus for anyone that cherishes good audio while they’re watching.

Sports apps are increasingly looking to keep users engaged by linking them to news feeds, stats and other additional information related to their favourite team. NHL GameCenter is no different, allowing you to personalize the app “to get the information you care about most.” That means you can follow-up to five teams in particular, choosing to receive either scores, player stats, upcoming fixtures, live games or a mixture of them all straight from the app.

Other notable features include a quick calendar view called Season Central, a quick preview of all the games in any given day known as Mini Guide, as well as voice and gesture control through the Kinect motion peripheral released in 2010.

There’s also Split Screen, which means users can watch two matches simultaneously. It’s a much sought-after feature from sports fans everywhere, and means that you can watch not only live games side-by-side, but also catch up with an old game if you prefer. In particular, I can see this being popular among fans who want to compare either the same game from last season, or when they were playing at the opposing rink.

The final feature, NHL Vault, includes on-demand access to more than 800 classic ice hockey games. “Watch some of the best Original Six battles from the 1960s or re-watch the best games from the Stanley Cup Playoffs through the years,” the announcement said. “You now have the best way to watch these games on your big screen with Xbox 360.”

NHL coverage is a huge addition to Xbox Live. Microsoft has always tried to sell the Xbox 360 as not just a state of the art video game console, but also an intuitive set-top box capable of streaming some of the best TV and movies.

ESPN is already available for watching NFL, MLB, NBA and other sports. NHL, therefore, has been the main missing link in the United States, and hopefully the launch of this app today will neatly plug the gap.

Image Credit: JUSSI NUKARI/AFP/Getty Images