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Rutherford Hoped O'Neill Would Stay

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Jeff O'Neill didn't have the impact either he or the organization might have wanted during his time at camp, but GM Jim Rutherford said he was willing to be patient with the veteran forward, and it never got to the point of cutting him or offering him a two-way contract.

Paul Branecky
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"Jeff made his own decision," said Rutherford.  "We were willing to be real patient on this and really take quite a bit of time to give him an opportunity to get his timing and his conditioning and everything.  But he made the decision sometime over the weekend and met with Ronnie [Francis] after the game and told him he just didn’t think that he wanted to continue."

Although O'Neill didn't do much offensively during his time in camp - one goal in the Red/White scrimmage followed by three scoreless exhibition games - Rutherford actually thought O'Neill looked pretty good despite taking the past year off from hockey.

"Personally I would have like to see him stick it out a little longer, because I think for a guy that missed a whole year he did fine," said Rutherford.  "He didn’t do anything special and he didn’t get his big shot off or score some goals, but I still think that was there over time.”

Regardless, O'Neill decided not to continue.

”It’s hard when you miss a year," said Rutherford.  "You’ve got an uphill battle.  I think he found that out and I think he thought that hill was going to be too steep to climb."


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