A few days ago, I got an email alert from WRAL's automated sports updates basically saying that Jeff O'Neill will be reporting to camp for the Hurricanes next month. The hockey world at large will go untouched by this news, but I'm rooting for good things to come of this.
O'Neill became my favorite player at my first NHL game when he got knocked down in front of the opposing goal, noticed the stray puck, and shoved it into the net while on his butt. The shot looked more like a guy trying to back-paddle his canoe than score a goal.
It turned out that O'Neill was a pretty good Hurricane to pick as my favorite over the next few years. He was one of the best players on the team for most of that time(if not the best), a huge part of the run to the finals in '02, and I always thought he was just one monster season from being a guy the NHL could really use to market the sport. Maybe that was just me.
I'm not sure what state O'Neill's game is in after a year away from the league and some pretty unsatisfying numbers in Toronto; but won't it be great if he comes in and reminds me of the guy who was my first favorite Hurricane?