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.

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.