Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Darcy Tucker knows what it’s like to play in the pressure-filled city of Toronto and feels for the current edition of the Leafs.
“It’s very difficult when things go sour and you get that feeling the pressure’s coming down and the media’s coming down on you,” Tucker told Brady and Lang on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday.
The Leafs are one of the youngest teams in the National Hockey League and that is one of several key differences between this year’s edition of the Leafs and the teams Tucker was a part of.
“We were very fortunate to have that veteran leadership in the dressing room that would … put the peer pressure on each other to be successful,” said Tucker, who played with veteran leaders like Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts, Brian McCabe, Shayne Corson and Joe Nieuwendyk. “We could kind of lean on each other when times were tough.”
Tucker admitted another big difference is the situation between the pipes.
“We had great goaltending, let’s be honest,” Tucker said. “We could play a certain brand of hockey because Curtis (Joseph) and Eddie (Belfour) we great goaltenders. There was nights where we hung them out to dry and we won two or three nothing and we had 27 shots and the other team had 45.”
Tucker, who played eight seasons with the Leafs from 1999 to 2008, retired in 2010 and transitioned into sports management. The 37-year-old currently works as a hockey director for Turning Points Sports Management.
The Leafs have now gone seven seasons without a playoff appearance and the former gritty forward knows the importance of having a post-season in Toronto.
“It doesn’t really matter how you get to the playoffs, it’s just a matter of getting there.”