Friday, October 01, 2010

Darcy Tucker retires, but the cap hit lingers on

I was never much of a Darcy Tucker fan.

He was a small man who played a big man’s game. He threw big hits, would fight just about anyone and excelled at the cross-crease tap in on the power play. While that may have brought him the adoration of many Leafs fans, he was also a pylon on the defensive side of the puck and had a terrible propensity for taking dumb penalties.

Say what you will about +/- (and we all recognize that it's a flawed stat) but Tucker was only on the plus side of the ledger three times in his 14 year career. On the Leafs, Tucker was always pretty much the worst ranked of his peers: 32 of 33 in 2003; 15 of 36 in 2004; 28 of 32 in 2006; 30 of 30 in 2007; 26 of 32 in 2008.

What's the old joke? A Darcy Tucker hat trick is a power play goal, bad penalty and a -2 on the night.

My feelings for Tucker would likely be different if he'd taken a page from Bryan McCabe's play book and allowed the Leafs to trade him. Instead, Tucker decided to shiv my beloved blue and white, sticking them with a cap hit through to 2014. Sure, Tucker was 100% legally correct in making the Leafs buy him out, but contract law is rarely the basis for picking who you cheer and who you despise at the rink. This was clearly demonstrated by Tucker's return to the ACC, which was marked with a tribute video, while poor McCabe, who did the right thing, returned to a chorus of boos.

In announcing his retirement, Tucker has been talking up his love of the Leafs but I don't believe it. Not one bit. I look at that buy-out he saddled my favourite team with and all I can think is, $6 million is the equivalent of how many billion grains of salt?

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  1. That's a mostly fair assessment, even though I was a fan -- he had me at "dive into the other team's bench".

    I don't buy the McCabe comparison, though. They both refused to waive at the '08 deadline. McCabe finally relented at the end of the offseason, while Tucker never got his chance.

    Make no mistake, McCabe would have been bought out right alongside Tucker if his contract wasn't so large. If anything, Tucker was a buyout target because he actually took a small hometown discount when he signed, instead of making sure he got maximum dollars the way McCabe did.

  2. LeafFanInVan4:28 pm

    I don't really like or dislike Tucker, although his sideshow bob antics were occasionally amusing. When they weren't costing the Leafs games, that is.

    Can't say I get all the adulation for a middling pest.

  3. DGB - I could be wrong here, but I think Tucker never got his chance to relent as his agent Sosa was so adamant about not even discussing a trade.

    Wasn't it Sosa's quote that Tucker would accept a trade "when elephants fly"

    With McCabe there were always rumours of Long Island and other destinations. With Tucker his agent had one line and he stuck to it: buy-outs or nothing.

    For all the "Tucker loved the Leafs" chatter, that's a very hard line to make your agent take and it's a helluva thing to do to a team you allegedly love.

  4. Paul Steckley6:52 pm

    Count me as a Tucker fan. Anyone that small who could get under the other teams' skin as well as he could is someone I want on my team. The fact that he didn't just chirp and pester but was willing to stand his ground and fight when he had to, unlike some of the other pests we've seen over the years, is what really stands out in my memory of his time with the Leafs.

    I will never understand anyone disagreeing with a player when they refuse a trade. It's not only their contractual right to do so, there are other considerations such as disrupting their families and not giving up on their teammates. If they jump at the chance to jump ship, good riddance to them. Don't blame Tucker for another bad contract given out by JFJ.

    Tucker made a decision he was entitled to make to refuse the trade. The Leafs made the right decision to buy him out. If you have any venom over the loss of cap room, send it to the proper target, JFJ.

  5. I share the general agreement that Darcy Tucker was a good player and his buyout impedes Toronto's cap management. Tucker left Toronto no choice but to buy him out. His stance did gain him an additional $1.5 mil. I wonder how misfortune has been brought his way because of having this buyout as part of his legacy.

  6. Tucker's one of those Leafs that I've got a ton of memories and emotions about, and for whom my net-final emotion is sadness. He was what he was, much like Sundin.. and what the fans thought of both of these guys depended a lot on how the rest of the team did around them. Were it not for the train wreck that this team became after the lock out, these two players would forever be legends in T.O.


  7. Anonymous12:04 am

    I can not understand why the leafs bought out the contract of a guy who was a heart and soul leader like Tucker. Especially when it meant they would have to take the cap hit for the next few years and get nothing in return...But then I have not understood a lot of the decissions the Leafs have made in the last few seasons, most notibly trading away last years second overall draft pick, as well as this years first round draft pick which will probably be in the top 5.

  8. Anonymous11:55 pm

    Tucker was the heart and soul of the leafs ! period...
    How many 185 pounders do you see in the NHL that took the abuse and gave it out like he did , he might of chirped some , but he always backed it up and stood up for his fellow teamates , i blame the organization for every dumbass decision that's ever been made , don't s%it can the only player they had since dougie gilmour with any amount of heart and soul ...

  9. Anonymous - Tucker was a player in serious decline who should have been traded at the deadline, not re-upped.

    Management made a bad decision in extending a new contract and a terminal mistake in offering Tucker a NMC; Tucker screwed over the team he allegedly loved by invoking it.

    The Leafs are still literally paying for such poor asset management. Instead of picks/prospects from a Tucker trade they have a long-term cap hit.

  10. At the Holiday Inn in Peterborough a few weeks ago during the Hockey Day in Canada weekend, he was asked for an autograph and dissed the kid. Wendel, Lanny, Napier, Larmer - all classy guys. Tucker was a dick. Not a surprise.