Love to hate Tucker

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

There are multiple reasons the Senators should hope contract renegotiation talks between Darcy "Mother" Tucker and the Maple Leafs never reach the pen-to-paper stage.

A would-be unrestricted free agent, Tucker is exactly the type of player Ottawa needs.

"I hate losing. I hate losing," the Leaf veteran -- a scorer of 28 goals in 2005-06 and seven so far this season -- was saying yesterday morning of his attack on Patrick Eaves two nights earlier.

"In a situation when you're not playing well, sometimes things just boil over."

A novel concept in these parts.

What does a healthy dose of grit go for on the open market these days? Tucker's getting $1.596 million from the Leafs this season. Might be a bargain at twice the price.

Hard to imagine a Senators team that's more talented than Toronto's bowing out from the playoffs meekly, as generally is its custom.

As well as his passion, Tucker's honesty is also needed here more than it is in Toronto, where an empty seat at an NHL game is as uncommon as a street corner without a hot dog vendor.

While the Senators were saying everything they could to diffuse the notion last night's game could turn ugly, Tucker was eating up the whole idea.

"I think it's created a good buzz," he said of the pre-game hype. "All the tickets are sold, aren't they? It's good for the game. The players are pumped. Everybody's excited about the rivalry again."

He drives you nuts now, Senators fans, and yes, he certainly can be a bit of a Side Show. But that little Darcy "Mother" Tucker can play, he cares deeply about his team and he'll do whatever it takes to win.

He'd look outstanding in an Ottawa jersey.

STARTS AND STOPS: As luck would have it (okay, maybe it was more than a coincidence), Chris "Hammer And" Neil lined up for the opening faceoff alongside Tucker. Neil clearly asked him to fight. Tucker passed, thank you very much ... Entering the night with just one goal in his first eight games, Daniel Alfredsson was asked what the difference is between now and his start last season. "Eight goals, five assists," he said with a smirk. Alfredsson was exaggerating, of course. He only had seven more goals at the same point of the schedule a year ago ... During a first-period Senators penalty for having too many men on the ice, Tucker was first put on his back by Chris Phillips and then, a few moments later, absolutely crushed by "A-Train" Volchenkov. Tucker must have thought they still had far too many men on the ice.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Tucker can do whatever he wants to with Patrick Eaves. But to some of us, saying "the writers in Ottawa obviously love their team" like he did yesterday morning is an unacceptable cheap shot. It wasn't the time or place to exact revenge, but it's also a long season ... Speaking of having pals in high places (aka the press box), Senators coach Bryan Murray was asked about the beefed-up coverage of yesterday's morning skate. Naturally, he likes the environment Hockey Country offers. "A couple of other markets I've been, there was only two or three (media) guys, we became friends and they covered me real well," Murray said with a chuckle ... As hard as he hit Tucker, A-Train would have put Kyle Wellwood clear into next week had he grazed just a wee bit more of the Leaf in a neutral zone attempt during the second.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: After two periods, bets were being made on which Senator would see the ice first -- Alexei Kaigorodov, Christoph Schubert, Brian McGrattan or Martin Gerber. All four had yet to play a shift. Somebody must have passed an old script to Stuntman Stu, who enthusiastically announced Gerber as the starting goalie. Ray Emery has looked the better of the two this season, heading both in to and out of last night's 7-2 win.

AFTER THE WHISTLE: Welcome back Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. You were missed ... In his first regular season visit to Scotiabank Place as an NHLer, former 67's D-man Brendan Bell put his name on the scoresheet twice in the opening period. Once for holding and once for hooking .... Bates Battaglia should lose an 'e' and change his name to "Bats", the way he knocked the puck out of the air to score his third goal of the season in the second period ... It's about Joe Corvo's second-period goal from the right-wing boards. Yup, the guy sure does have a hard shot ... Neil went hard to the net from centre ice on Ottawa's second goal. He didn't get an assist, but he and two Leafs created the screen that made it impossible for Andrew Raycroft to prevent Antoine Vermette's fourth goal of the season.


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