Agitator extraordinaire Darcy Tucker announces his retirement

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darcytucker1.jpgLove him or hate him, Darcy Tucker has made an impact on your NHL fandom. From the Canadiens, to the Lightning, to the Maple Leafs, to the Avalanche, Tucker has left his mark on the NHL and not generally for things that leave a good taste in the fans’ mouths. With a history of dirty hits and generally pugnacious play behind him and no free agent offers coming to him through training camp, Darcy Tucker is calling it a career and retiring. TSN’s Darren Dreger gets the breaking news from the man himself.

“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 15 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.

Tucker’s career has a legacy of hair-raising situations, one in particular that involved Michael Peca during the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs that saw Tucker deliver a hit to the then Islanders forward that severely injured his knee. The Islanders and Peca were furious over the hit but Tucker tells Dreger that while he’s made amends with Peca over it, it’s all part of the game.

“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.”

Win at all costs was clearly a motto that Tucker lived by and made his career out of. He’s still a wildly popular player in Toronto where he made his name as a dangerous force on the ice. When he and the Leafs parted ways it wasn’t under the greatest of terms. Tucker refused to waive his no-trade clause and the Leafs ended up buying out his four-year contract before the start of the 2008-2009 season, something they’ll be paying off until 2014 to the tune of a million dollars a year.

All that aside, Leafs fans do still love him for being one of the bigger performers for them when the team was making the playoffs year in and year out. That alone helps make the Leafs fanbase unique because most other fans across the NHL are likely happy to hear that Tucker is calling it a career. When you earn a nasty reputation, sometimes the good-byes aren’t always tearful.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.