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.