Tucker plays waiting game

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Darcy Tucker should be duelling with John Madden of the New Jersey Devils tonight, but he'll be dancing with five-year-old daughter Owynn at her school's Disco Night instead.

It's the same situation for the rest of the locked out Maple Leafs, who are scattered around the world on the night they were supposed to open the National Hockey League schedule in New Jersey.

Maple Leafs player rep, Bryan McCabe, is on the east coast, coach Pat Quinn is in British Columbia, defenceman Ken Klee is up in the Rocky Mountains and Tomas Kaberle and Aki Berg are in Europe. Tucker is among those staying close to Toronto for now.

"Opening night is always a thrill, whether you're a veteran or a young guy in his first game," a disappointed Tucker said. "You want to be out there playing a game you love. But there are bigger things going on."

BARGAINING STALEMATE

Tucker was referring to the bargaining stalemate that threatens the entire NHL season. He was concerned to hear of a flurry of polls in which the majority either blame the players for the lockout or express total disdain for the sport.

"I urge the fans to read up on the issues as much as they can," Tucker said. "There's a lot of information that should be out there that isn't. We want to get back playing. But as Trevor Linden (the NHL players association president) said in his letter to the fans on our website, $200 million US was a lot of savings for us to offer the league (in a starting proposal from earlier this year).

"We're just looking for a fair deal and we appreciate the backing we get from the fans."

Today would have been the first day players would be paid, the first of 13 cheques that might never materialize. But there is a silver lining for fathers such as Tucker.

"I never get to do much of this school stuff with my daughter," he said. "I'm not much of a dancer, but I'll get out there and shake it on the floor. She's excited and this will be just as exciting for me as being in Jersey."


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