January 13, 2006


The Child circled around the empty rink a number of times, dragging his feet along to the cries of the Coach.

"Be like Lemieux!", the Coach cried. "Be Jagr! Be Spezza!"

The Child found some determination hearing the names of his modern heroes, kicked his skates back, and rushed towards the puck. He pushed forward and handled the puck with his stick and then focused squarely on the empty net. Pushing the puck from side to side, the Child reached the slot, and fired a shot towards the net with all the force and aggression he could muster.

He missed completely. The puck bounced off the corner, and settled in the snow along the boards.

"Go after it!" cried the coach.

The Child grabbed the puck from the corner, circled around, and fired another shot at a sharp angle. He missed completely.

The Child looked back at the Coach while skating towards the puck on the other side. With his eyes focused squarely on the Coach, he fired another shot. Again, the puck went nowhere near the net.

Dejected, the Child skated back towards the bench. The Coach frowned, but was not ready to give up hope.

"If you take a thousand shots, eventually one will hit. Just keep shooting," the Coach instructed. "You will score."

"What about the nearly thousand times I miss though? Someone else will grab it, I might hurt someone, the other team can pick it up, people will laugh at me..." The Child wasn't too keen on this strategy. Nevertheless, it had worked for the Coach before.

"Never mind about that; come, we'll take a break. Let's grab some food." The Child skated off the rink, pulled off his skates, and put on a pair of sneakers. The two walked towards the lobby, and spotted a café therein.

The Coach was also the Scout, looking for the final member of the local Womens team. The Child took a seat with the Coach in the arena café, buying a hot chocolate while the Coach ordered a sandwich.

The Child could not wipe the frown from his face, thinking back to all the shots he missed. To have been practicing this long, and not hit the net even once was something that did not sit well with him. A year earlier, he had hit a post. He still thinks back to that with mixed feelings of optimism and regret. Optimism, because it was the closest he had ever come, but the regret overpowered the optimism. He had never come any closer. The Child sat there, moping about the lost opportunities and failed attempts he was becoming accustomed to.

A young woman, a pair of skates tied over her shoulders, came to the café and sat down at the table behind the Coach and the Child. The Coach nudged the Child out of his moping, and pointed towards the young woman seated behind him. "She might be the one," the Coach whispered, gazing at the woman seated behind the Child. "She might be the right one," the Coach repeated. "I'm going to ask her."

Already, the Coach had it figured out. As a Scout, the Coach had enough experience in assembling the rest of the team, and could identify the characteristics that were needed to fill in that last gap. Yes, this woman might be the one, streaking down the left side, taking a crisp pass from the centre, pulling a tricky move around the defenceman, and putting the puck home past the goaltender. The Coach could already see it; where she would play, how she would fit in. Should she be made the captain? She's probably too young for that. But she'll be good. Maybe someday. She's probably had a very good history. It looks like she's played with some other great players; there were others who had walked into the café with her that also looked good. She definitely has the potential to be the star. She's got it all; talent, charisma, and charm. She will be front and centre on the team picture, the Coach thought.

"You can't just ask her," the Child whimpered. "What do we know about her? Nothing!"

"There's nothing wrong in asking," the Coach told the Child. "If you take a thousand shots, eventually one will hit." The Child thought back to the first several shots he had taken; statistically speaking, things did not look good.

With that, the Coach stood up from the table, and approached the woman.

"I couldn't help but notice your skates. I'm assembling a hockey team and think you might be the one I was looking for to complete it." the Coach asked.

The young woman was startled. "Oh, hockey?" she asked. "Oh, gee, that's nice of you to offer, but I don't really think I would help. I haven't played hockey before, I'm here for figure skating."

Figure skating. "Oh, I see. Well, good luck with that," said the Coach .

The Coach, slightly embarassed, apologized, and sat back down. The Child looked on, somewhat disappointed, but feeling a little smug; he refrained from saying "I told you so", but perhaps his restrained smile gave it away.

The Child later returned to the ice, with the Coach following after. The Child put on his gear, stepped on the ice, and charged towards the lone puck sitting idly at centre ice.

The Coach, rather perplexed by the episode that had just transpired, could not think of any legendary players to inspire the Child as he rushed towards the net with the puck. Inadvertently, the Coach called out to the Child, "Be Chara!"

The Child, puzzled by the reference to the Ottawa defenceman, fired the puck waywards, again failing to come anywhere near the net. He looked back at the Coach, who sat head down, muttering something incoherently.

"Be Chara, child. Be Chara."


  1. I think many of us can relate to the Child in this story. Remember that each miss teaches you something... either it's a little to the left, to the right, too high, etc.

    In the end, you're not looking simply to put the puck in the net, but you're looking for the one shot which you'll never forget. One of the worst things that can happen to someone is to score a goal they're not proud of, and ask for another shot.

    Also, shooting at an empty net is one thing... but in real life, there are goaltenders too.

  2. Haha, funny story... great response by Viqar Bhai too. :)

    If you're going to take a shot, make sure it's a good one.

  3. Yeah, I forgot to take into account the goaltenders. That will undoubtedly make things much harder for the Child in question.

    I'm glad you figured it out this time, Nauman, before I had to explicitly explain it.

    In completely unrelated news, I had no goals and no points over six games at the recent ball hockey tournament in Montreal.

  4. Assalaamu'alaykum

    An enjoyable read every time. This time, I couldn't help reading it with a bit of a French accent in mind..I think it has something to do with that movie (based on the classic book that apparently the Montrealers all know) called The Sweater.

    Nice comments. Your metaphors tend to be fulfilling on their own, any deeper insight in search of the obscure meaning seems like a treat. I think I found one in here now. :)... I may even have a name for those goaltenders :)