Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Buying out Tucker is the right move, but I don't have to like it

Somebody asked me once why I'm so hard on Bryan McCabe, but rarely say much about Darcy Tucker. They're both overpaid underachievers, they both had the dreaded no-movement clause, they both refused to waive... what's the difference?

There were three:
  • Unlike McCabe, Tucker took a discount to get his no-trade. After the year he had in 2006-7, he could have made more than $3M a year on the open market.
  • Tucker's lousy year was at least partially due to injury. And while staying healthy is part of being a top player, I'm going to cut a guy some slack when his body breaks down because he played bigger than he was
  • I can't claim to read minds, but for some reason it always seemed like Tucker genuinely loved being a Maple Leaf, while McCabe loves being in Toronto. There's a difference. A big one.
All that said, I think Fletcher made the right move here. Darcy Tucker has been in Toronto for so long that he's become a symbol of the team. He was a symbol of the plucky underdogs of 1999, he was a symbol of the borderline psycho death squad of 2003, and he was (unfortunately) a symbol of the whiny losers that the team morphed into during the Ferguson era.

Does he deserve to go? No. But the team needs a fresh start, and you can't get on if you keep the core in place. Sometimes you really do need change for the sake of change.

And yes, McCabe would have been a better choice to throw overboard, for a long list of reasons. But he won't go, and he's too expensive to buyout. So Tucker had to take the bullet for him. Another reason to give Bryan a warm welcome in the fall.

* * *

So let's all dry our eyes and look back on the good times. Here's a fond trip down memory lane:

Hey listen, it's objective and professional non-homer Dean Brown calling the game! Let's see if he can cover the entire checklist of things he's required to mention every time there's a fight in a Senators game:
  • Claim that Ottawa player is wining fight despite no visual evidence
  • Call for suspension
  • Use of term "gong show"
Yep, sounds like he got them all!

This was back at the height of the "the Leafs are out-of-control" phase that culminated in SI doing a hatchet job on the team. As part of that, the media decided that since the Leafs were evil, the Senators had to be good and pure and classy. Good times. But notice how Hnidy jumps Tucker after he fights Neil. Can you imagine if the roles had been reversed, and a Senator fought Domi only to have Belak immediately grab him for round two? They would have had to sedate Dean Brown to keep him from attacking Joe Bowen.

This was also the same game that saw Domi's gentle glove-on punch to Magnus Arvedson, who faked a broken nose so that Domi would be suspended. Also, Daniel Alfredsson tried to two-hand Domi with his stick, Hossa-style. Pure class as always. OK, I'm angry now. Time to go for a walk and do some breathing exercises.

OK, I'm back.

Hey, while we're at it, who is the guy in the Senators gameday operations booth who sees a wild brawl break out and thinks "Man, this is crazy, what should I do? I know, I think I'll play some classical music!" (Edit: I may not be giving enough credit on this one. See the comments section.)

* * *

Finally, to all those who are hanging their heads today, here's a prediction: you haven't seen the last of Tucker in Toronto. The Leafs love to bring their warriors back for one more round (right Gary?). In a few years when the team is ready to make a serious playoff push again and needs some veteran sandpaper, look for #16 to make his return.

It's going to happen. And when it does, look out, because I think he's going to be cranky.


  1. great post, DGB.

    in a couple of years, if we can somehow manage to become competitive that fast, I would love nothing more than to see Darcy back with us. that would be a whole lot of awesome.

  2. In a few years when the team is ready to make a serious playoff push again and needs some veteran sandpaper, look for #16 to make his return.

    I like it. Could make this whole ordeal worthwhile. Does this count as "optimism"?

  3. That's not just random classical music... that's Star Trek Fight Music!! Like when Kirk fought Spock on Vulcan... or when Kirk had to fight on the disembodied brain planet.

  4. That's not just random classical music... that's Star Trek Fight Music!
    I'm trying to figure out if that makes it better or worse.

    Thinking... thinking...

    And... it's worse.

  5. That song was also used in Cable Guy when they fought at Midevil Times. It actually enhanced the entertainment value at least by 10 times.

  6. I'm sure you'd find that the Leafs have been significantly worse with McCabe out of the lineup than when Tucker was out of the lineup. Leafs fans, including myself, loved Tucker for all of his antics and toughness, but he's nowhere near as important to the Leafs success as McCabe.

    I guess that argues that it's even more important to get rid of McCabe than Tucker as Fletch's strategy seems to be to make the Leafs the worst team in the NHL since the first five years of the Ottawa Senators.

  7. Dean Brown is definitely a bigger homer than the adult male of the cartoon Simpson family, but at least he knows a little bit about hockey.

    The same cannot be said for his black-and-white colour man, Gord Wilson, who even the most avowed Sens fans I know can't stand.