Tucker 'has lost it:' Exec

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Cliff Fletcher, the interim general manager of the Maple Leafs, has, over the years, pulled a few rabbits out of his hat.

But he may have a complicated time trying to pull another one out of his hat on his second sojourn in the hockey world's Mecca.

You see, to move players, or in shinny parlance, make a deal, Trader Cliff's hands are tied with several aging millionaire Maple Leafs players owning no-trade pacts. Sure, he could buy out the odd gladiator at a cost of big bucks, but that would not help restructure the Buds to the point of becoming serious Stanley Cup competitors.

Cliff certainly is tight-lipped as far his immediate plans are concerned. But it's no secret that his numerous phone calls and emails may entail "deals" in discussion.

One player he won't be able to move -- if I can believe a rival club's executive -- is Darcy Tucker.

"I wouldn't give my last draft choice in order to get him," was the way the fellow put it to me.

"It's not because he isn't an honest, hard-working player, but because he has lost it. The many wars against much bigger and tougher fellows are telling on him. He is trying hard, but he can't get there anymore."

COACH'S DARLING

Carol-Angela Orchard is retiring as a Seneca College gymnastics coach after a tenure of 31 years, 28 at Seneca. She's not leaving because she's had enough of coaching. The reason for departing after the Beijing Olympics is marriage to a fellow who lives in England.

Orchard weighs words carefully when she says she'll miss 14-year-old Christine (Peng Peng) Lee, her star pupil.

"She is the best gymnast I have ever seen in Canada," Orchard said.

"She can perform two tricks nobody else is capable of. The first is a backward salto (back flip) with a full twist on the balance beam. The second is a front salto with a half turn. As far as I know, nobody else can do it. Her highest achievement on the beam is a 7.4 point of difficulty, although right now she can do a 7.6. It's incredible.

Peng Peng cannot compete in Beijing because she's too young. A gymnast has to be 16 to be eligible for the Games. But as Orchard says: "She already has the program for the 2012 London Olympics. Now she has to grow into it for London."

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

The Seneca College Sports Gala will be held on April 25 at the Old Mill in Toronto. Several star athletes such as Red Kelly, Johnny Bower, Dick Duff, Russ Jackson, George Chuvalo and Alex Bauman will attend the fund-raising event. For tickets and other info call Diane Gore at 416-491-5050 (2316) ... Red and Andra Kelly's son, Patrick, won a recent masters speed skating championship in Europe ... The Pure Wrestling Association returns to the Grand River Flea Market in Cambridge on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door ... Tennis Canada was the first tennis federation to exclusively webcast a Davis Cup tie. According to Michael Cvitkovic of Tennis Canada, almost 100,000 viewers watched the three-day event ... A popular international 10K race will be held on Feb. 24 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The organizers expect 15,000 runners. Two more events will be held in Puerto Rico -- the Heineken International Regatta will be held off the coast of the Island of Culebra March 14-16 and the PGA Puerto Rico Open will be staged at the Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande March 17-23 ... University of Toronto Varsity Blues swimmers Kassandra Wolfe of Huntsville and Stephanie Hassell of Calgary, as well as Lenore Chesworth of the Western Ontario Mustangs, made the Olympic trials qualifying standard and will compete in the Olympic trials in Montreal in April. Wolfe is a backstroker, Hassell a 400-metre freestyler and Chesworth a 400-metre individual medley specialist. Head coach Byron MacDonald said that Hassell improved her time by 20 seconds in the past two years.


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