Jeff O'Neill was once Justin Williams' teammate on the Hurricanes, and O'Neill has enjoyed being around Williams the last few weeks in informal workouts at the RecZone.
O'Neill came back for a tryout with the Canes, hoping to win a roster spot on his old team. The last thing O'Neill said he could have expected, or wanted, would be to go into training camp trying to replace an injured Williams.
"He's one of the guys I've known here and one of the guys I've gotten close to since I've been here," O'Neill said today. "It's tough to see a guy who has put so much effort into it, considering last year he got hurt as well.
"It's a devastation here. You're so excited to get back on the ice, then that happens. It could happen to any of us. Just a freak accident and you've got to move on."
General manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday that Williams' Achilles injury would "open the door wider" for O'Neill, who was out of the NHL last year.
"I don't think it has any effect on what I have to do," O'Neill said. "I just have to have a good training camp and prove I can still play and contribute.
"Justin's a solid teammate, a solid leader and good offensive producer. I think I can do that. We'll see what happens."