It's not rare to see a fall from grace as a professional athlete ages, but Darcy Tucker has taken things to a whole new level.
Tucker was signed by the Avalanche last summer to do what he had been doing for the past decade: score goals and be a pest.
Even though he was bought out by Toronto, he still had 18 goals and 100 penalty minutes his final seasons as a Leaf, so there was no reason for Avalanche management to believe he couldn't provide a key third-line role.
Instead, the only team Tucker has been a pest for is the Avalanche.
After an appalling first season with the Avalanche, where Tucker only scored 16 points (8 goals) and was a minus-13 rating in 63 games, things have only gotten worse. In 56 games this year, Tucker only has five goals (one in his last 47 games), and (maybe worse) only 36 penalty minutes.
It's possible injuries have caught up with him, as Tucker has only played all 82 games twice in 13 seasons, but at the same time hasn't dealt with any major injuries.
And at 34, Tucker's age isn't a concern in an NHL that features numerous players over the age of 40.
Many Avalanche players have referenced Tucker as a good leader in the locker room, and the Tucker family has played host to rookie Ryan O'Reilly this season. But at what cost are those services?
If Tucker retires (which he should give strong consideration), the Avalanche should offer him a front office job; it keeps a good man employed, and keeps his positive influence around the young players of the Avalanche.
If Tucker wants to continue playing, it's time to part ways. O'Reilly can bunk with Paul Stastny; there's no salary small enough that is worth paying to a player who's a clear liability every time he's on the ice.
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