Tucker takes a test spin

Injured Leafs forward Darcy Tucker talks about his rehab after an optional skate on Sunday. (Sun...

Injured Leafs forward Darcy Tucker talks about his rehab after an optional skate on Sunday. (Sun Media/Craig Robertson)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Wearing a navy blue nylon training suit and a determined look on his face, Darcy Tucker glided around the Lakeshore Lions Arena ice with relative ease yesterday.

Not bad for a guy who, according to some reports, had little more than mush inside his right knee.

While the Maple Leafs winger has no timetable for a potential return to action, at least he was able to lace up the blades and skate for a few minutes, as leisurely as it might have been.

Just a week after announcing that he would be out indefinitely with ligament damage in that knee, Tucker was encouraged by the mobility he enjoyed while wearing his new knee brace, which he tested out for the first time during the Leafs' optional Sunday practice.

"I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went," Tucker said. "I just wanted to see how it felt."

Tucker began riding the stationary bike in New York on Saturday, then went out on to the ice yesterday. He hopes the next step in his rehab will be the opportunity to skate in full equipment, a scenario he would like to see come to pass later this week.

All the while, Tucker is irked at some of the speculation going around that he has anterior cruciate ligament problems and will be out long term.

When it comes to Leafs injuries, you often have a better chance of unearthing Jimmy Hoffa than finding out the true nature of the ailment.

Such secrecy usually leads to various stories predicting how long a player will be sidelined and, fittingly, the Tucker affair is no exception.

Asked yesterday if his progress would alter his alleged prognosis of missing a minimum of three weeks, Tucker raised an eyebrow.

"Three weeks? Who said three weeks? Not me," Tucker said. "Right now, we're just going day by day and see how things pan out.

"The key will be the swelling. After being on the ice again, we'll have to see how much, if any, there is. That will help determine how we go ahead."

While Tucker left the ice early in the workout, forward Kyle Wellwood, decked in full equipment, managed to get through the entire practice.

Wellwood, whose recurring groin injury is quickly turning into a sports medicine mini-series, had been working with a power-skating tutor for the past week before joining some of his teammates out on the ice yesterday.

He hopes to practise with the entire team for the remainder of the week and is eyeing a potential return as early as this weekend.

Of course, with all of the false alarms encountered during his lengthy rehab, perhaps the Leafs should not anticipate Wellwood's comeback until they actually see him suit up for a game.

"This is as good as I've felt in the past 10 months," said Wellwood, who underwent sports hernia surgery earlier this year. "But we'll see what happens after a few back-to-back practices. The power skating was (designed) just to stretch a dew things out even though (the ailment) is tight."


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