Nobody knows that story better than Matt Gilroy.
The former Boston University standout, fresh off a national championship season in which he won the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, is fighting for a spot with the New York Rangers. It's a familiar situation for the 25-year-old, who went to BU despite not having any guarantee to make the team.
Now, he's trying to earn his keep as an undrafted rookie in the NHL, but after his debut Tuesday night against the Bruins, he's certainly caught his coach's eye.
"I thought the kids played well," Rangers coach John Tortorella told the New York Daily News after the game. "Do they have some things to work on? Yes, but there were some good signs there."
While it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement for Gilroy, it's a start. The attention began at practice on Monday, when, as New York Newsday notes, Tortorella called for a drill involving "You, you and Matt."
Following the practice, Tortorella was a bit more open.
"He played well," Tortorella said of Gilroy. "He's one of the better-fit athletes we have here. We've had some conversations along the way here. He did some things we want him to do. He was up the ice, he was creating offense."
The last time Gilroy was in a position to make a team, he did all he could, calling college coaches around the country before finally getting a shot with Jack Parker. He moved to defense in order to make the Terriers, eventually becoming the best collegiate player in the country. He turned down 23 offers from NHL teams after his junior season for the chance to get his diploma, play with his younger brother Kevin and win a national championship. He accomplished all three, and when it came time to sign with an NHL team, he once again got what he wanted.
"I chose to come play for them. I chose to come play for coach Tortorella," Gilroy told The Daily News. "I love the way he coaches and lets his defensemen join the rush and take chances. That was a huge reason for me to come to the Rangers, was coach Tortorella. So I kind of knew what I was getting into."
How far he'll get into it remains to be seen, but if the Long Island native's history is any indication, he'll end up just where he wants to be.