Boy was it fun watching Henrik Zetterberg play in the finals. It's amazing to see a player who's so complete at both ends of the ice—saving goals with perfectly timed stick checks in the crease, breaking up passing plays in the neutral zone.
You know what I'm getting at, right?
Now it's very very unfair to compare Darcy Tucker to Zetterberg, really, there is no comparison. But the point I'm trying to make is that Tucker is a one dimensional player whose time has come in a game where defensively gifted forwards can dominate the game.
Looking back over his career stats, Tucker is a -70 lifetime NHLer. Minus 70. Wow. That includes an uncharacteristic +24 in 2002.
Never mind Zetterberg, even Matt Stajan who plays a checking role for the Leafs and is often put out against the opponent's top scorer, is a plus five over three seasons.
Really, if anything, the Stanley Cup playoffs this year showed us that offensive teams still need to be able to play stunning defense to win.
Pittsburgh stormed their way into the finals playing exceptional team defense as well. With the arrival of Ron Wilson as coach, it appears that the Leafs will soon become stronger defensively in 2008-2009.
This all means that Tucker can no longer remain a Leaf. Sure he's gritty and can shoot the puck pretty well, but really, his lack of speed and lack of defensive skill make him way too much of a liability on the ice, not to mention a poor example for younger players.
Howard Berger wrote that Tucker would not accept a trade which almost certainly means that a buyout is on the horizon. The $1M a year is not horrendous to absorb, although six years of it is a definite drag over the long term.
As I write this, the Wilson press conference has occurred, and, as expected, he stated his commitment to putting a much stronger defensive system in place.
So long Tucks. A lot of fans will be disappointed, but the Leafs will have a better shot without him in the line-up.