Peca's a winner, not a whiner

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

In the 11 seasons since making his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks, Michael Peca has helped his team make the playoffs a remarkable nine times.

It is for this fact alone that I do not understand why so many are focused on the possible problem in "the room" between Peca and new teammate, former foe Darcy Tucker.

Is it that focusing on the positives here is not sexy enough?

Obviously, we in the media find it more fun to make the buzz all about the incident between the pair four years back. For those of you who don't remember, Tucker sent Peca for a date with a surgeon for a blown-out knee after a somewhat, ahem, questionable hit?

Rather than contemplate the positives of picking up Peca, the ringing question is "Can they function as teammates?" Your answer: Duh! This is hockey, people. You know the old adage, "The player you hate to play against makes the best teammate."

Peca had his choice of several teams; he chose the Leafs. If he still held a grudge and couldn't picture himself going to battle with Tucker, why sign?

The focus on Peca should surround the fact that he is just what the Leafs need -- a proven playoff performer. A leader in the room and a leader off the ice, the Michael Peca I know is a guy who will be a stellar addition to a Leafs club in need of the character he has.

Smart, speedy and certainly savvy, this Toronto boy isn't about coming home to simply play here, he wants what he has always wanted, to be a Stanley Cup champion.

Having tasted success on the international stage as the assistant captain of team Canada's gold medal-winning 2002 Olympic team, Peca needs that silver cup to go with his gold.

Peca has worn the "C" and knows how to lead an NHL team. He isn't a guy who wants to float and poach wearing the blue and white, but rather to take the team where Toronto fans crave -- deep into the playoffs, and beyond. It's territory he knows as well as he knows how brutal the DVP or QEW can be on the Friday of a long weekend.

Jody Vance is a longtime television sportscaster and personality living in Toronto. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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