Tucker takes it easy

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

NEW YORK -- As he gingerly walked toward the Maple Leafs team bus, Darcy Tucker looked like a battered warrior who had been beaned by a slew of Nuke LaLoosh fastballs.

LaLoosh, of course, was the wild-throwing pitcher portrayed by actor Tim Robbins in the classic baseball film Bull Durham, a flick in which he actually hit the team mascot because of his lack of control.

Robbins, a huge hockey fan, watched last night's Maple Leafs 6-2 victory over the New York Rangers from a private box at Madison Square Garden. And while he witnessed the visitors post a fourth consecutive victory, he, like the other members of the capacity crowd of 18,200, did not see Tucker on the ice.

Instead, a bruised Tucker sat out last night's game because of what a team spokesman referred to as a trapezius muscle bruise, meaning he has a shoulder injury.

According to Tucker, there are a number of ailments which have slowed him down of late.

As a result, he said he will be checked out by medical staff today.

"I've had some things injury-wise we must look after," said Tucker, appearing to be in discomfort. "If I don't, well, you're playing with fire out there."

Tucker and coach Paul Maurice huddled during the day yesterday and determined it would be in the best interests of all parties if Tucker sat this one out.

"Obviously I always want to be out on the ice but we had a good talk," Tucker said. "He's a good man and a good coach.

"Obviously, I want to be fit for the last 50 games."

Maurice claimed Tucker's absence from the lineup "was my decision."

"Maybe he could have played, but he was sore after practice (Wednesday) and he didn't feel well this morning. The doctors and I figured he'd be better (tomorrow against Boston)."

Meanwhile defenceman Pavel Kubina enjoyed an active return to the lineup, collecting an assist, a minor penalty and going plus-1, all in 19:50 of ice time.

Kubina, who injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee against the Rangers on Nov. 10, collected an assist when his point shot was deflected in by Nik Antropov at 3:34 of the third period.

"Kuby claimed it was his goal," Antropov said, laughing.


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