With a winter chill starting to permeate the air, thoughts now turn to the season of giving.
However, you could forgive Leaf winger Darcy Tucker if he does not share that sentiment because he was on the receiving end of a butt-end from Florida's Jason Wiemer with less then five minutes to go in a game that was well in hand at that point.
Tucker fell to the ground and lay motionless for several minutes before skating off under his own power. The Leafs announced at Tuesday's practice that Tucker has been diagnosed with a grade three concussion and is expected to be out for at least a week. Wiemer, however, will be out longer than that as a seven-game suspension was handed down by the NHL on Tuesday night.
| Darcy Tucker's improved offensive output has given the Leafs more reason to celebrate this year. |
(Credit: Harry How/Allsport)
"While it is not clear from a review of the videotape of the incident whether the injury sustained by Tucker was caused by the action of Wiemer or by other factors, it is clear that Wiemer's actions were deliberate and dangerous," said NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.
To a man, the Leafs are standing up for their fallen comrade.
"I'm curious to see how they will judge this one," said Tie Domi who is all too familiar with the league's disciplinary measures. He pointed out how his infraction in last year's playoffs that resulted in an eight-game suspension, served at the beginning of this year, was similar to Wiemer's in that it was away from the play. As it turns out, Wiemer received nearly as severe a penalty.
The Leafs continue their schedule in Buffalo on Wednesday and on Long Island to meet the Islanders on Friday where they will be without Tucker, who has been a surprising offensive spark so far. He is tied with Alexander Mogilny with six goals for second place on the team and is third in points with 16 behind Mats Sundin and Mikael Renberg. In his absence at Tuesday's practice, Garry Valk was skating on a line with Shayne Corson and Gary Roberts.
Leafs coach Pat Quinn has noticed the change in Tucker's play this year and knows he is a valuable asset to the team.
"He's been all we've hoped for much of the season, a gritty competitor," Quinn said earlier in the month. "He's getting points and playing with discipline. He's a very emotional guy, emotion is important to him and it helps him to be the competitor he is. Emotion is one of those things that needs to be controlled as much as fostered. If you don't know where you are in the emotional spectrum, it's not a helpful situation."
Supporting Quinn's statements, the Panthers allowed themselves to get carried away with revenge against Tucker who administered a hard check to Pavel Bure in the first period. While that play was tough and physical and resulted in an injury to the Russian Rocket, it was the type of giving that should be commended in the NHL, not like the gift Wiemer delivered to Tucker.