Tucker thrilled for opportunity with Avs
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
CENTENNIAL, Colorado ” The newest Avalanche forward is a veteran of 12 NHL seasons, but either the league schedule or injuries have kept him from playing in the Pepsi Center, which opened in 1999.
“It’s going to be an eye-opener for me the first time,” Darcy Tucker said Tuesday while inside his other new home, the team practice facility at the Family Sports Center.
Tucker, 33, signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Avalanche on July 1. The Toronto Maple Leafs bought out the final three years of his four-year, $12 million contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.
“I’m looking for a new beginning here in Colorado,” said Tucker, who is married and has three children. His brother-in- law is former NHL forward Shayne Corson. “I’m thrilled with the opportunity and, hopefully, I can just slide right in and it’s a seamless adjustment for myself and for my family.”
Tucker, a scrappy 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, brings a fierce work ethic to the rink and figures to become a fan favorite. He had 18 goals, 34 points and 100 penalty minutes in 74 games last season. He averaged 24 goals, 45 points and 83 penalty minutes the previous three seasons despite missing 52 games with injuries.
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“I’ve played the game as hard as I could over the years and that’s not going to change,” said Tucker, who grew up on a farm still run by his family in Castor, Alberta. “I play the game with a lot of energy, a lot of tenacity. I try to come to the rink every day and be consistent and work hard. Those are my attributes and I bring those to the rink every day.”
Despite his Western roots, Tucker has played his entire NHL career in the East, with Montreal and Tampa Bay before arriving in Toronto in February 2000. Tucker played his junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers in the Western League, won three Memorial Cups there and was named tournament MVP in 1994.
Conversations with new Avalanche coach Tony Granato, who played a similar style during his career, were a factor in Tucker’s decision to sign with Colorado.
“I think we do have very similar personalities and the fact we played the game very hard and intense,” Tucker said. “He’s got an upbeat personality and so do I, and that’ll be brought to the rink every day.”
McLEOD TALKS: Tucker’s agent, Carlos Sosa, also represents Avalanche forward Cody McLeod, a restricted free agent. Sosa, who accompanied Tucker to Denver, said talks on a new contract for McLeod are ongoing. McLeod, 24, had four goals, five assists and 120 penalty minutes in 49 games as a rookie last season.