Darcy Tucker has lost 10 pounds and gained -- well, we'll have to wait and see. For now, as the phony war continues leading up to the dawning of what's being called the "new NHL", Tucker is dreaming of something quite new: a 30-goal season.
Gary Bettman can talk all he wants about the league moving more toward skill, more red lights and less violence (excepting when it comes to Todd Bertuzzi's suspension, that is -- and as Denial noted in a comment here yesterday, when did this guy ever talk about anything being wrong with the NHL's version of hockey before last year's nuclear winter hit, or before they decided to expand faster than Kirstie Alley?). If this renaissance is half what it's cracked up to be, Tucker may well be a a guy whose signal lights flip over from red to green.
And if that is indeed the way it works out -- the goals, and the flow -- should we be surprised? Not really. Tucker scored 64 goals in his final junior season, and 93 points as a freshman pro with AHL Fredericton. The door is open for wingers to partner Mats Sundin, and he's among the first in line, if he can just keep his head:
"I probably shot myself in the foot at times with overzealous physical play. This year there's an opportunity maybe not to bang around so much, but to be a factor physically and make room for my teammates."
The flipside, given all these stars apparently in alignment, is that if Tucker doesn't show any improvement offensively or in terms of brainlocks -- his career high in four full seasons in Toronto is a humdrum 59 points -- there'll be some kind of pressure come February and March.
Elsewhere on a typically slim late-August filing, the best of the rest is Monica's lovely farewell to Alex Mogilny, one of the guys whose shoes Tucker is trying to fill (it's sort of like replacing a Lexus with a hanging strap on the 501 King car), on the TMLfans website. Okay, I'm not the best guy to ask for a Mogilny tribute -- one of my Alex memories involves paying way too much money for my once-a-season ACC treat a couple of years back, and watching him sleepwalk through a snoreworthy 1-0 loss to Montreal -- but he is/was the kind of scarily skilled player the Leafs never seem to have, and Monica gives him a heartfelt farewell. (Perhaps I missed something, but the boo-hoos surrounding the departure of Mogilny seemed much cooler compared to the sky-is-falling hysteria around Roberts and Nieuwendyk leaving).
Hey, and going around the league, can we never get enough news about 40something defencemen? Chris Chelios signed a while back. Now it's Al McInnis, c'mon down! Tommy Albelin, there could be a spot for you (registration required for this one)! Somewhere amid this madness, Danny Syvret, one of our favourites from last year's splendid OHL Knights squad and Team Canada, has signed with the Oilers. Kid's only 20, for pete's sake.