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For LaCouture, tryout means trying hard

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When the Hurricanes' training camp began, Jeff O'Neill and Dan LaCouture were both unsigned free-agent forwards who were out of the NHL last season and were invited to camp for a tryout.

O'Neill, a former Canes' star, got all the media attention, not that he sought it. LaCouture had more staying power.

O'Neill ended his comeback try a week ago. LaCouture, meanwhile, came into camp in terrific physical condition, having healed a right shoulder that had given him problems and required surgery in January.

"The biggest thing is they gave me an opportunity, which is all I asked," he said. "I wanted to make the most of it. You don't always get a chance like that.

"I just wanted to come in with a great attitude and show them I would work as hard as I can to help this team. Whatever that is -- shooting, skating, banging, fighting, whatever it is -- I would do that if it will help my cause making this team and then helping this team move forward."

LaCouture, 31, has played in more than 300 NHL games with five different teams, with 18 goals and 25 assists.  A second-round pick by the New York Islanders in the 1996 draft, he began his career with the Edmonton Oilers and later played for Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers, Boston and then six games with the New Jersey Devils in 2006-2007.

LaCouture spent last season with Lugano of the Swiss-A league, but used some past connections with Canes general manager Jim Rutherford and assistant coach Tom Rowe to get a camp tryout -- and another shot at the NHL.

"I've had a lot of time to think about my life, my situation, my career," he said. "I guess sitting at home, rehabbing, you really take a step back and think about where you've been and how much you miss that. 

"When you've been in the league for so long, sometimes you need a reminder. For me, it was a big reminder, the past few seasons. This past year helped me out a lot, helped my mental focus. 

"I'm happy with the way things have gone. I hope they continue to go this way."

Rutherford said there have been no contract talks yet and that a decision on LaCouture probably would be made either Sunday or Monday.

"He's one of those players on the bubble," Rutherford said.




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Keep LaCouture.

I agree, the Canes need more grit, more edge, more "heart and soul." I see big potential in LaCouture and he should be sticking around. The guy ran circles around every other prospect in the red and white scrimmage, plus threw his weight around in the Nashville preseason game on Sunday. He plays smart, he can score goals and he can stick up for himself and others. So, far I've been 100% impressed with his energy. He belongs in the NHL this season.

Sign him, for the love of

Sign him, for the love of god sign him. This is a heart and soul player that deserves a chance to show what he can do. I would even go as far as to say that he may be the type of heart and soul guy that Kevyn Adams was for this team a few years ago. I know players move on and that's how things work but I don't remember this team giving up so easily when Adams was playing with us. No disrespect to any current player, but something changed within this team and the trade that sent Adams away is a point I can remember. My opinion is move/waive a d-man(whoever they feel is number 8 in the depth), and then keep LaCouture, and Gillies or Conboy. It just seems like the smart thing to do. I think the morale of the team would be a lot higher this way and heart and soul players are necessary for morale. I know most of Carolina's players are big team guys, but some just make more impact than others.

Kevyn is/was a character

Kevyn is/was a character guy, but it appeared that his run-in with Hedican spelled the beginning of the end for him. I agree, LaCouture has earned a spot on the team--it sounds like he won't take anything for granted, which is what we need.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.