Brett Connolly's idea had to have seemed simple at the outset.
The little girl had been banging away on the glass during warm-ups before the Washington Capitals' first round playoff matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets. What she lacked in age and stature, she clearly made up for in enthusiasm — so why not give the budding superfan a souvenir she could cherish?
So, the Caps winger plucked an extra puck from the corner and glided back, ready to play his part in a grand athletic tradition dating back at least to Mean Joe Greene: Hey, kid — catch!
But the world is not a Coke commercial. Sometimes, it's got drama all its own.
In case you haven't yet, just go ahead and watch the video above. This humble reporter's words won't capture the laughter, the tears, the sheer three-act off-Broadway opus that unfolded in the span of a minute in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
Twice she watched as the puck intended for her went to the taller boys beside her instead, courtesy of some subtle intervention from the men behind her. Those near-misses earned a light reprimand from Connolly, who in a moment turned from benefactor to stern coach, clearly confident his little protege could muster a little more hustle.
Then, he missed twice himself, failing to clear the glass with the third puck.
Forget for the moment that the game later that night would end in overtime heartbreak for Caps players and fans. Forget for the moment — and here your humble reporter sadly speaks from experience — that the repeated disappointment may actually be fitting training for a lifetime of rooting for the Capitals.
Forget all that. In the story we're talking about here, at least, the third act promises a happy ending: After one last loft, an adult catches the puck and promptly passes it to the mini-megafan.
And, well, sometimes smiles say more than a thousand scoreboards ever could.