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Dazed and Confused - Jeff O'Neill Chatter

You have to give Luke DeCock some credit over at Lord Stanley's Blog. During the past two days, he has stirred the Caniac Nation up into a frenzy, and it's not even hockey season.

Monday, he brought up the subject of parking at the RBC, which nearly everyone has a complaint about. Tuesday evening he made a posting about the possible return of Jeff O'Neill, a player who brings strong emotions out of many in the Hurricanes faithful.

Some of the emotions are positive, some not so much.

O'Neill will always be special to some fans for his heroics during the 2002 playoffs. I mean, the guy took a puck to the face in one particular game, only to come back in that game to eventually score the game winner.

But other fans will remember the public intoxication, public urination arrest, and the DUI's, as well as the moodiness and inconsistent effort on the ice.

People can change though, just look at Josh Hamilton. If everyone would have given up on him a couple of years ago, where would he be now?

Perhaps O'Neill has turned a new leaf? (no pun intended)

Jim Rutherford was quoted as saying that he might take a look at Jeff if the forward agreed to a 2-way contract and he would "probably" start in Albany.

The "probably" scares some folk.

If he didn't start in Albany, then where would he start?

Even some fans who leave emotion out of the equation are going to question Rutherford's motive if this possible signing comes to fruition. It's well known that Rutherford's family and O'Neill's family are close friends in the suburbs of Toronto.

Could he be thinking of signing the forward, a player who was playing in the beer leagues last year, just as a personal favor?

This move might be deemed reasonable if the Canes were desperate for help at the forward position and no one else was available. But if it truly is an organizational depth type of signing, it seems more likely that a younger player would have more potential.

This is one reason why the franchise is listed as having the worst system of prospects in the entire NHL. They seem more content to trade away draft picks and then sign older, re-tread players, than to build from within using youth.

Rutherford is also quoted as saying that they may experiment with O'Neill at center ice, where he played in juniors. Since the forward has been out of junior hockey for about 13 years, that might be easier said than done.

Just one more question that leaves me scratching my head. If the Canes were needing depth at center, why did they allow Keith Aucoin to walk away two weeks ago?

Led Zeppelin