Dreger: Darcy Tucker announces his retirement

Darren Dreger

10/1/2010 4:19:02 PM

Never one to back down, Darcy Tucker has decided it's time to face life's next challenge and in doing so, he's announcing through TSN, his decision to retire from the National Hockey League.

"After spending the whole summer anticipating I would play, it got to a point where I knew it was time."

"I just knew, during workouts I didn't have that same feeling," Tucker told TSN, "and I needed to be fair with my family."

The 35 year old, who played his final season with the Colorado Avalanche, ends his NHL career with 215 goals and 476 points over 14 NHL seasons.

His final season, in Colorado, was marred by a bad concussion which Tucker says, thankfully, he has no lingering affects from, but he still describes the experience as devestating and says while he came back from the hit that earned Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu a three game suspension, he was never the same and didn't play well after it.

Known as an agitator, the feisty forward enjoyed time in Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Colorado. However, his identity as both a pest and offensive threat was developed over the span of the eight seasons he played for the Maple Leafs.

Three of his six, twenty-plus goal seasons came during his time with the Leafs, and it was his fiercely competitive style his fans and critics will remember most.

Tucker says he will always cherish his playing days in Toronto.

"I regret not winning a Stanley Cup in Toronto, that would be the ultimate for any player."

"It was difficult to play in Toronto, it wasn't easy, but I took it as a compliment, and I thrived on it. I loved the pressure there," Tucker added.

At 5'10, 180 lbs, Darcy Tucker never looked out of place playing a big man's game and was equally skilled when it came to the physical battles or verbal warfare he seemingly thrived on.

In the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs, Tucker's hip check on New York Islanders captain Mike Peca in game 5 of the opening round, left Peca with a severely damaged knee which ended his season and sparked an immediate debate over the intentions of the hit.

"It was one of those series and there may never be another like it," Tucker recalls.

"I've talked to Mike about it and I've always had a lot of respect for him."

"It was just one of those things and I was saddened he got hurt, but I was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs and he was the enemy at the time."

Vintage Darcy Tucker.

Tucker was a "love him, or hate him" type player, but as he looks back, he has few regrets, even though at times he knows he straddled the line.

"Obviously things happen that you regret, but I left it all out there."

"There I things I did that I wasn't proud of, but those were the things that kept me in the game," Tucker said.

"I am very proud of how hard I played, especially in Toronto."

Tucker began his pro career in Montreal's organization in the mid-90's which included one season in the American Hockey league with the Canadiens affiliate in Frederiction where he earned rookie of the year honours after recording 93 points and 174 penalty minutes in 74 AHL games. The following season, 1996-97, Tucker earned his spot in Montreal where he played a season and a half before getting traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While he leaves the game without a Stanley Cup ring, Tucker, a native of Endiang, Alberta, a small farming community where his parents Dale and Florence still reside, Tucker has enjoyed his share of success, which includes 3 Memorial Cup Championships with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers and a World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal.

Major accomplishments that he swiftly identifies as his biggest achievements.

Tucker's emotion quickly surfaces as he talks about his junior days and the support he's always had from family.

"I deeply appreciate where I came from and how I got to where I am. I wouldn't be where I am today with the help and support of my parents and my wife, Shannon."

"I'm proud to have played in the NHL for as long as I did and I'm thrilled about the next chapter in my life, and I want to say thank you to all my fans and the people who have always been behind me."

As for what's next, the "next chapter," Tucker intends on entering the next phase of his professional life with as much intensity as he played and has partnered with his longtime representative, Carlos Sosa in forming Turning Point Sports Management, where he will spend this year consulting and recruiting young players, while working towards becoming a certified agent.

" I have always been a guy who needed something to move on to and I'm both thrilled and excited about this opportunity," Tucker concluded.

"He's the guy you want next to you in the Foxhole," said Sosa.

"We've been together a long time and neither of us wanted that to end."

"Darcy will be our primary indentifier of talent all over."

His tireless work ethic will serve him well.

It certainly did as an NHL player.