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For every one who plays in the NHL, there are thousands who play hockey just for the love of the game, fun and for fitness. But it's in community hockey, or casual games of shinny, where many of the best players in the world take their first strides toward a career in the NHL -- professional hockey's best league. One such example is Sheldon Souray, a native Métis and one of a dozen aboriginal Canadians who has played in the NHL. Souray learned to skate and play hockey on Fishing Lake, Alberta, shooting pucks into snowbanks before his parents enrolled him in minor hockey in Edmonton. The defenceman was drafted into the NHL by New Jersey in 1994, and in 2000 was traded to Montreal. The odds were greatly against Souray, as they are today against anyone who hopes to play in the NHL. Players must have exceptional talent, supportive parents, excellent coaches, and be willing to work long hours on improving their skills in every area -- while keeping good grades at school. Sometimes, players must be prepared to move away from home at a young age to play on a junior or university team where they can be "scouted" or seen by men who are hired by NHL clubs to identify the talent that they believe could one day best help their teams. For the select few who are chosen, playing in the NHL is the dream of a lifetime. The NHL, with its central scouting bureau, grades junior-age talent in North America and Europe and ranks it on a long list. It's from this list that the NHL's 30 teams annually choose players like Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh and Alexander Ovechkin of Washington, two of the league's most impressive rookies in 2005-06. The "entry draft" is televised, and it can be an emotionalmoment when a player steps onto the stage and pulls on the sweater and cap of the team that's drafted him. The player then usually returns to his junior team and moves up to a minorpro club, part of the NHL team's "farm system," to further develop his skills. The dream is complete when he finally gets the call to play in the NHL.