By Michael Russo
During the preseason, I either wrote or said on the radio that “Darcy Tucker will make Matt Cooke look like a saint.”
After watching his act for years when I covered the East, I know him well and he continues to try to not just hurt guys, but affect their careers. He just can’t help himself.
Latest incident in which he showed a total lack of care in the world for one of his opponents?
Late in the second period, Tucker and defenseman Nick Schultz clashed deep in the Wild’s zone. After the pushing match, the two lined up next to each other on a faceoff and Tucker began screaming at him as the Wild was on a penalty kill. Schultz was called off the ice on a line change and as he skated by, Tucker continued barking at him.
Then, 6:33 into the third, in a despicable act but one he’s done often in his career, Tucker came in way late on Schultz, bent down and went right for the knees. He was called for clipping.
I got Schultz alone in the locker room, and he was still fuming. Here’s his comments:
“My concern is at the end of the second, he tells me he’s going to come and take out my knees, and then he actually does it. It says everything you need to know about that guy.
“In the game right now, we’re lacking respect for each other and to go and do something like that I think is not respecting one of the guys you’re playing against.
“He’s been that type of player his whole career, and you don’t need that in the game. It’s something we’re trying to get away from — hits to the head and taking out guys knees. It’s just a gutless play.”
The NHL should investigate this now and act now. It shouldn’t wait for an injury to take place to discipline Tucker. The Wild and Avs play five more times, and regardless of whether or not Schultz got hurt, the replay is clear. Tucker, who’s got a history of this type of play (ask Michael Peca), went for the knees.
He should face supplemental discipline now instead of next time when just maybe he gets Schultz right and he can no longer walk for the next four to six months.
Enough on that.
As for the game, the Wild took advantage of a fragile team early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead to improve to 5-2 on the road.
However, the Wild gave Colorado, which has lost five in a row, life by taking four straight penalties and six for the game. But Niklas Backstrom was brilliant with 35 saves and saved the Wild’s hide over and over again.
You have to give Colorado credit for coming at em hard the last two periods.
As you’ll read, Jacques Lemaire gushed over his goalie, which I remind you can still become an unrestricted free agenct next summer unless the Wild acts.
Marek Zidlicky was solid with two assists, and other than one midhap where he turned the puck over to Ryan Smyth in front of the net, was strong on the PK. Pierre-Marc Bouchard attacked the net like Lemaire asked this morning, Benoit Pouliot scored again, as did Andrew Brunette in Game 800 of his NHL career (83rd on the active player list).
That’s it. Early flight to Vancouver tomorrow.
By the way, here’s something funny, but the Wild’s excited the presidential campaign’s over.
It adds one extra 737 into the fleet owned by Swift Aviation, the Wild’s charter company. Republican candidate John McCain had been solely using one of Swift’s planes. That meant with one less plane, Swift had often sent other company’s planes to pick up the Wild.
Unfortunately though, this won’t help the Wild this weekend. The Wild wanted to change its Vancouver return from Sunday morning to Saturday night, but because McCain’s plane won’t yet be refurbished, the Wild will have to spend the night.