Once upon a time, there was a kid whose daddy so wanted him to be a pro hockey goalie that he bought a plane and flew the kid from his northern BC home to practices and games in towns where the kid could meet better competition.
The kid did well. He loved his daddy and wanted to please him, so he worked hard. He was lucky too. He had talent for the job, and he liked doing something he was good at. Soon, he was sixteen, and drafted into junior hockey by the Tri-City Americans.
Leaving home was tough, but the kid was lucky. He ended up living with a great couple who really treated him like their own son. They made his home life easy, so he could concentrate on hockey. Under their care, he bloomed. His team wasn't great, but he did well anyway. When he was eighteen, the Montreal Canadiens went way off the board and picked him at number five in the NHL draft. Habs GM, Bob Gainey, had the world at his feet with that pick, and could have picked any number of talented guys like Staal, Setoguchi, Kopitar or Stastny. But he went with the guy his scouting staff recommended...a lower-ranked goalie who could have gone anywhere in the first two rounds.
In a couple of years, the kid was picked to play for his country in the World Junior Championships. Nobody knew this would be his watershed moment. He led his country to gold in spectacular fashion. Within a year he was playing for the Calder Cup championship in Hamilton and won that too, with MVP honours.
Then the love affair shifted into high gear. The kid went to the NHL camp and wasn't quite the best guy there. He took second seat among the tryouts to a Slovak kid who'd helped the NHL team almost make the playoffs the year before. But the GM loved the Canadian kid already. The boss stepped in and picked the kid for the NHL job.
The kid did well, until he hit his first pro losing streak. Turned out, he couldn't handle it. He cried and got sent to the minors to get his head back on straight. After that, though, he came back strong. The GM even traded the pesky veteran rival to the kid's number-one spot. Everything was great. Until the playoffs. Then, the mental fatigue and thirty pounds of kid-fat he'd accumulated through the year got to him and he couldn't do it. He collapsed and lost the series for his team.
This year, the kid came back strong. Then he got hurt. He came back again, got hurt again. After the second injury, he wasn't ever the same. He acquired the dreaded "Softie-per-game" syndrome. Meanwhile, the Slovak kid he beat out for the job last year stole enough points to get the kid and the team into the post-season. Of course, the GM, now coach, loves the kid and he'll start in net. The Slovak kid won't get a look in until the thing is lost and it doesn't matter.
The kid can make the big saves. He can be huge. But then, when it matters most, there'll be a floater from just inside the blueline that beats him over the glove hand, and that'll be the game. But the GM/coach loves him. He loves him with an unshakeable faith and unrelenting belief. The kid will captain the ship, even if it's bows under, because he is the GM/coach's great love.
I just hope the love is finally requited.