Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Return of Doc Holliday

In Vino Veritas

One of my all time favorite movies is Tombstone. Kurt Russell stars, but Val Kilmer steals the movie. Kilmer's Doc Holliday is an absolute train wreck. Wracked with pain both emotional and physical, drunk his entire waking day to escape the demons of his past transgressions and the tuberculosis that will soon take his life, he's the uber-cool anti-hero.

Jeff O'Neill returns to the Triangle tonight as the 'Canes face the Leafs. Harken back if you will to the spring of 2002. The 'Canes cup run had just come to an end and the city of Raleigh threw a party for the Eastern Conference champs. Doc O'Neill showed up for the event unshaven, disheveled and a couple of sheets to the wind (No stranger to the bottle, Jeff picked up two DUI charges/one conviction during his tenure with the 'Canes). At one point, "O" seized the microphone and proceeded to ramble and grunt his way through a series of unconnected predictions of retribution and promises of future team greatness. Most shrugged off Jeff's antics, attributing them to his disappointment after failing to win the cup. Jeff was just such a competitor, he couldn't cope with losing. After three consecutive years of 60+ point production, O'Neill finished an injury riddled '03-'04 season with only 34 points-a season where Jeff was frequently clashed with head coach Paul Maurice over inconsequential things like work ethic, attitude and commitment.

In a cruel twist of irony, Jeff lost his brother in a car wreck this summer right before the O'Neill family got the chance to celebrate Jeff's signing with the beloved Leaf Nation.

By all current accounts, O is returning a changed man. I hope so because the old one was, to quote Val Kilmer's Holliday, "a huckleberry."

1 comment:

The Acid Queen said...

Actually, O was traded to the Leafs because of his brother's death--after Donny died, O'Neill pere got on the horn to JimR and told him that his son wanted "to come home".

So Jimmy decided to be a mensch and give Jeffy what he wanted.