Toronto Maple Leafs tentatively agree to multi-year contract with winger Darcy Tucker

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The deal will earn the winger an average of US$3 million per season. Tucker was slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1. "Nothing's finalized yet," Tucker said at the Bell Centre, where his teammates were to face the Canadiens on Monday night. "Things have been progressing in the right direction.

"I think both sides are excited about the last couple of days."

Tucker, who turns 32 next month, had 19 goals in 39 games for Toronto before he went down with a serious foot injury Jan. 1.

He said his first priority was to stay in Toronto.

"That was No. 1 for myself and (general manager) John (Ferguson). We've had great communication throughout this whole thing.

"I've been here seven or eight years now," added Tucker. "It's been phenomenal. I can't see myself playing anywhere else. As far as I'm concerned, I want to remain a Maple Leaf."

Captain Mats Sundin was happy for his teammate.

"He's turned into a great player for us, not only as a goal-scorer but for his grit," said Sundin. "It's nice to see him extend his contract. I'm very happy for him."

Tucker skated for about 15 minutes Monday morning and said his injured foot appears to be progressing. He had also skated on the weekend in Philadelphia.

"It feels better than the other day," he said. "It's moving in the right direction.

"We have to be cautious with it because we don't want another setback, but hopefully we'll get to the point where I can practice with the team for a few days."

He said that if the foot still feels good, he will try skating again on Tuesday.

Goaltender Andrew Raycroft said keeping Tucker in the fold "means a lot.

"He's a great player and a great leader and to have him locked up here for the next few years, and fortunately I'm here for a couple of years, it will be fun to play with him."

Coach Paul Maurice pointed out that Tucker was leading the Leafs in goals-scoring with 19 when he was injured and was only recently passed by Sundin and Jeff O'Neill.

"Darcy has that edge and that competitiveness about him, but honestly, what we've missed is that shot on the power play," said Maurice. "He finishes checks, he drives the intensity up, he plays the game we want to play, but he's got a lot better set of hands than people noticed early on.

"You notice all the other things. There's always a bit of blood on his shirt and on someone else's. You forget that for our team this year, he's been an important shooter."


with files from Pierre LeBrun in Toronto



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