Darcy Tucker has only been in Colorado for roughly six weeks, but the new Avalanche forward is already starting to feel comfortable with his new teammates.
After stops in Montreal, Tampa Bay and Toronto during his first 12 NHL seasons, Tucker is proud to call Denver his adopted home. The gritty forward, who has been a fan favorite in each city he’s played, has used Colorado’s 2008 training camp to familiarize himself with his new teammates.
“It’s been fun for sure just getting to know everybody,” said Tucker. “Starting training camp, the first few days are always fun to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had fun so far on the ice, so hopefully it continues.”
A player who has an edge to their game but can also put the puck in the net is a rare commodity in the National Hockey League, but that’s exactly what the Avalanche received when they signed Tucker to a two-year contract on July 1st.
Tucker has recorded 436 points (197g/239a) in 813 NHL contests while amassing 100 or more penalty minutes in three of his last five campaigns. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound right wing has also reached the 20-goal plateau six times in his career, including four of the past six seasons.Avalanche Head Coach Tony Granato
, who has both played and coached against Tucker, knows exactly what the Castor, Alberta, native will bring to the team.
“Energy, passion, heart. He’s going to do whatever he has to do to make an impact on the game,” said Granato. “I think he’s one of those players that our fans and everyone around will enjoy watching with the impact he can make on games.”
A player with the traits Granato mentioned will quickly endear himself to both his coaches and the fans, but Tucker’s demeanor and leadership have already begun to rub off on his new teammates as well.
“He’s been good off the ice, and on the ice he’s going to bring elements of skill and grit that we need,” said Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold. “I think he’ll be a big addition to this team.”
After spending more than a decade in the National Hockey League, Tucker has learned to take things one day at a time. But when pressed, he’ll admit that he likes what he’s seen during training camp in regards to the mix of talent, youth and veteran leadership on the Avalanche’s roster.
“There are a lot of guys in camp and obviously until we get down to the opening night roster it will be tough to tell what kind of group we have,” said Tucker. “But I like the mix; I think we’ve got a lot of good young talent on this team.
“It’s exciting, I think, as an older veteran guy to see them come in and work hard every day. They make you feel a little bit younger every time you come to the rink, so it’s nice to be a part of.”
But for the time being, Tucker only has one thing on his mind: using his renowned work ethic to get ready for the upcoming campaign.
“Preseason is about getting ready and getting prepared for the regular season,” said Tucker. “You have to continue working on your conditioning and timing, and focus on being a better player each and every day.”