One of the most celebrated plays in hockey history is being showcased in a new short film for EA Sports by Partners Film director Trevor Gourley.
The Man Behind the Michigan tells the story of the first-of-its-kind goal scored by London, Ont.’s Mike Legg while he was playing for the University of Michigan in 1996. The play saw Legg sweep the puck onto his stick behind the opposition net and then deposit it, lacrosse-style, over the goaltender’s shoulder.
Considered controversial at the time, “The Michigan” has since been used by NHL stars including Andrei Svechnikov, Mikael Granlund and Filip Forsberg. It is now being memorialized through its inclusion in this year’s edition of EA Sports’ popular NHL video game, NHL 21.
Gourley’s mini-documentary contains footage of the historic goal and an interview with Legg about how it came to be part of hockey’s rich history. “I remember watching the move as a kid,” recalls Gourley. “It predated YouTube and I remember being in the computer lab and waiting 20 minutes to download a blurry six-second QuickTime file. It was the hockey equivalent of footage of the Loch Ness Monster.”
Legg, who lives a short drive away from EA Sports’ B.C. headquarters, thought he was participating in an ordinary interview until being informed that he was being included in NHL 21 as a playable character, along with his famous goal. At the end of his interview, Legg is handed a tablet and instructed to hit play. He’s astonished to see himself, rendered as an in-game athlete and so much clearer than that old QuickTime file, scoring his iconic goal.
“There was a little bit of a concern about the final moment,” Gourley admits. “Athletes, specifically hockey players, can sometimes be stoic or unexpressive. But we couldn’t have asked for a more genuine or grateful guy than Mike. I was directing remotely on the other side of the country and I shed a few bro-tears when I saw his reaction.”
“The Man Behind The Michigan” will live on EA Sports’ online channels, but has already gained traction on Twitter and Reddit. Of particular contention amongst commenters online is the name of the shot. While Legg is credited with bringing it to the world’s attention, it has since come to be associated with the NHL stars who have had the nerve to attempt it in a game.
Legg, though, doesn’t care what people call it; he just gets excited when he sees it. Once a hockey guy, always a hockey guy.
Client: EA SPORTS
Senior Manager, Global Marketing Strategy: Drew Hebb
Senior Manager, Global Brand Marketing: Ashkon Nowtash
Global Marketing Partnerships Manager: Matt Sacks
Producer, EA SPORTS: Reza Vajihollahi
Production Company: Partners Film
Director: Trevor Gourley
Director of Photography: Liam Mitchell
Executive Producer: Aerin Barnes
Line Producer: Madeleine Davis
Post Producer: Wendy Tao
Editorial House: Saints Editorial
Editor: Christopher Chang
Executive Producer: Tory Osler
Producer: Mackenzie Goodwin
Online House: Darling VFX
Executive Producer: Kristen Van Fleet
Producer: Morgan Campbell
Colourist: Kassi Bellamy
Jr. Flame Artist: Lauren Rempel
Audio House: Imprint Music
Executive Producer: Cassandra Salz
Producer: Tim White
Engineer: Sydney Galbraith