NFL Street 2 (EA Tiburon/EA Sports BIG, 2004)
There are a bunch of extra modes and the UI is pretty radically different, but the game underneath it all seems pretty close to the same. They keep the menu music going into the game now, so you better like Sum 41. There's no escaping them.
NHL 2003 (EA Sports, 2002)
I haven't really played hockey games either, but I do at least follow the sport more than the NFL or NBA. That's enough to know that these announcers are awful and don't fit the tone of a hockey broadcast, and also that the camera is zoomed in way too much. You can't see anything that's happening when it's this close.
NHL 2004 (EA Sports, 2003)
This saw a huge 10+ point jump in review scores, which I'm going to attribute entirely to them zooming out the camera. It also features somewhat improved graphics and more modes, but the announcers are still absolutely terrible.
NHL 2005 (EA Sports, 2004)
The 2005 game features international teams for the first time, and added ways to customize players and arenas. It also zoomed out even more and improved the announcers, who are now less repetitive but still quite generic.
NHL 06 (EA Sports, 2005)
The last GCN entry in this series is largely unchanged from the 2005 version, as is the way of sports games at the end of console lifespans. The announcers have finally gotten to what I'd call an acceptable level, at least.
NHL 2K3 (Treyarch/Sega, 2002)
Despite reviewing better than any of EA's hockey games, this was the only GCN entry in the franchise. It has decent announcers and a camera, between highlighting important features and a good zoom level, is great for seeing everything you need to know. You could play online if you were using a PS2 or Xbox, but that was sadly not an option for GameCube.
NHL Hitz 2002 (Black Box Games/Midway, 2001)
Midway's edgy arcade version of hockey does not have the barely-clothed women or dramatic grunting of its equivalent titles in other sports, and instead actually tries to be a playable hockey game. It does have exaggerated fights that take players out of the game permanently and doesn't bother with penalties, but it also has announcers that aren't a bad comedy routine. It's a nice change of pace for Midway.
NHL Hitz 2003 (Black Box Games/Midway, 2002)
Against all odds, this one is actually pretty fun. You can play in crazy settings like "Disco" here, and the career mode has you traveling all over the world to take on increasingly tough teams in a battle royale to join the NHL. I wish Midway had taken all their arcade sports in this direction instead of trying to match a middle schooler's idea of being edgy.