In order to make it in pro sports, athletes have to make the most of their opportunities. No team is going to take a young player and say, "Ok, you're going to be our superstar." Players have to earn their spots on the team and earn their playing time through quality performance. When given a chance, it's important for players to take advantage of it.

The underdogs: Even if a young player isn't an organization's most highly-touted prospect, they can still make a name for themselves. A rash of injuries could open up a starting spot on the team. If the player performs well, they can keep that starting spot. If they continue to contribute consistently, the can develop into a star. Many players who were not necessarily top draft picks have become excellent professionals simply by playing well when given the chance.

Ottawa Senators: Earlier this week, the Ottawa Senators beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0. The game was significant because it marked the second-career shutout for Brian Elliott, Ottawa's second-year goaltender. Elliott is one of those players who wasn't expected to be a star. He was drafted in the ninth-round of the 2003 NHL draft, a slot normally reserved for players with a slim shot of reaching the NHL.

The back-up role: Elliott entered this year as Ottawa's back-up goalie behind Pascal Leclaire. Last month, though, Leclaire suffered an injury and Elliott has stepped into the starting role. The Senators haven't won every game that Elliott has started, but he has shown flashes of brilliance. The shutout effort against Philadelphia proved that Elliott has what it takes to be a winning goalie in the NHL.

As long as he keeps working hard and playing well, Elliott will have a job in the NHL. It's amazing to think that a few years ago, Elliott wasn't expected to ever play in the league. Now, though, he is making contributions for a winning team. He received an opportunity, put forth a great effort and is in a position to become a star player.

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