Becoming a fan of a new sport takes time. Statistics have to be studied, video games played, fantasy leagues lost. Still, there has to be that hook, that original spark which makes the prospective fan interested at all. So we posed a simple question: If you could show someone just one video to get them interested in your favorite sport, what would it be?
Today, we start with hockey, with submissions from SI.com writers and fans over at Reddit. In the coming days and weeks we'll be covering other major sports, so whether you're a hockey fan or not, submit your favorite sports video in the comments or send it to us on Twitter.
The Broken Leg Shift
There's no one video that sums up the beauty, the grace, and the carnage that makes hockey great. Although I'm sure somewhere there's a Bobby Orr clip that comes close, that's not the one I'd go with. Not with the playoffs coming up. Playoff hockey, after all, is the best hockey, and this clip captures that truth perfectly.
In a 47-second span last spring, Boston forward Gregory Campbell personified the sacrifice and utter selflessness the sport demands of would-be champions. With a pivotal Game 3 deadlocked at one and the visiting Penguins on the power play, Campbell flung himself in front of a 90 MPH Evgeni Malkin slap shot. The puck caught him in an unprotected area of his right leg, shattering his fibula.
That happens to you or me, we lay there on the ice screaming for our moms or morphine or whatever. Campbell? He gets up and back into position to kill the penalty. He shouldn't be able to stand and yet he does by sheer force of will alone. And somehow, through all that pain, he has the presence of mind to sweep his stick to fill the lanes, to move just enough to address the changing angles of attack.
The Penguins don't score. When the puck is finally cleared he drags himself to the bench, only to collapse in the arms of the trainers, his playoffs finished. But he went out in an epic, perfect moment of courage, one that inspired his teammates -- the Bruins went on to win the game in double-OT and clinch the series two nights later -- and a city still numb from the marathon bombings. -- Al Muir
Datsyuk's Highlight Reel
One of the main reasons why I fell in love with hockey is that I can’t play it. Not only are my reflexes three ticks behind a morphine addict’s, I am unable to remain upright on ice skates for more than a few wobbly strides without using a walker and support cables. So I naturally appreciate the off-the-charts level of skill that is required to excel in this sport not only in beer leagues, but at its highest levels.
In the context of the NHL’s furious, world-class mix of speed, brutal physicality, emotion, and color, I ask you to consider the wonder that is Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk. Check out this collection of his slippery moves, wizardly stickhandling, and awesomely accurate shots.
For my green crinkled bills, he’s the world’s best and most electrifying all-around player -- a goal scorer, playmaker, winner of three Selke trophies as best defensive forward and four Lady Byng accolades for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play. (Hockey is not all about knuckle-dragging goons, y’all.) Oh, yeah -- unlike me, Datsyuk can dance, too. That’s entertainment, folks. -- John Rolfe
Tim Thomas "Fights" Carey Price
I considered a video showing off Crosby's subtle chessmaster approach to the game, or maybe Lemieux and Jagr galloping through opposing defenses in their primes. Having grown up in a nascent hockey market, though, I know what really draws folks in.
Carey Price vs. Tim Thomas isn't a great goalie fight (for that see Patrick Roy vs. literally anyone). It's really not much of a fight at all: They grapple for positioning, hug, and then chat for a minute. But the lead-up to the fight is great theater, like professional wrestling with real-life stakes. At the 0:39 mark in the video we hear "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" kick in and the crowd starts to go inexplicably crazy. "Here comes Tim Thomas!" the announcer shouts, since "Is that Tim Thomas' music?!" is probably a little too much on the nose.
Again, the fight itself is a let down. But can you imagine being in that crowd at that moment? Your entire team is fighting their hated rival when suddenly your old, undersized, mountain man of a goalie decides to skate the length of the ice to lay the smack down on young hotshot Carey Price. Just watch Thomas' then-backup Tuukka Rask go nuts banging his blocker pad on the boards at the 0:55 mark. -- Sam Page
Despite being raised in Canada, I never considered myself a hockey fan growing up. I found the deluge of Toronto Maple Leafs coverage I was exposed to somewhat off-putting, and as a result I gravitated towards other sports. Oddly, it wasn't until years after I left the country that I started to truly appreciate hockey, and the video above is a good example of why. Hockey is probably the only professional sport where it appears that the players involved would play the game for free and still give the same effort. The combination of grace and brute force is unlike anything else I've ever witnessed live, but it is the passion that so clearly bursts off the ice that has converted me into a fan. -- Dan Treadway
"Our Way of Life"
I've always liked this fan made one. It's based around the playoffs of several teams, their fans, and the amount of energy, excitement, sorrow and celebration they bring. -- juspeter
Bourque Finally Hoists the Cup
After spending two decades with the Bruins, [Ray] Bourque got traded midseason to Colorado for a chance at a Stanley Cup. Colorado didn't win the Cup that year but Bourque decided to stick around and give it once more shot. The Avalanche ended up winning it all the next season after being down 3-2 in the finals. Instead of lifting the Cup first like all captains do, Sakic immediately handed it to Bourque to make one of hockey's greatest moments. -- richard__fingers
"14 Minutes of Pissed Off Goalies"
[No comment necessary.] -- CherrySlurpee
The Vladimir Konstantinov Story
Vladdy, a promising, feared, and talented defenseman, came from Russia to help lead the Red Wings to their first championship in 42 years. 6 days later, he was involved in a horrific car accident, which left him in critical condition, and ending his career. He would endure physical rehabilitation just to learn to speak and have limited movement in a wheelchair following the incident. The following season, the Wings used his story (along with team masseuse Sergei Mnatsakanov, who was also injured in the crash) to inspire them to win another championship. When they won, Vladdy was wheeled out onto the ice, and Steve Yzerman passed him the Cup. Truly emotional stuff. -- ShiggieSmalls
Off the floor, on the board!
[ed. note: God bless Paul Kariya] -- AGuyFromKansas
HNIC's Farewell to the 2010 Playoffs
No one does hockey montages like Hockey Night in Canada. -- yrfather