By Mike Pearson • METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP
Former Toronto Maple Leafs center Darcy Tucker isn’t overly optimistic the NHL lockout will be resolved in time to salvage the season.
“At this point, not really,” Tucker said during an appearance in Ancaster on Thursday. “But you always want to see players out there playing.”
When asked what he thinks it will take to resolve the dispute, Tucker said, “I don’t think there’s anything to resolve it right now. Obviously both sides have been through the mediation process in the last 24 hours, 48 hours here. It doesn’t look like anything good has come of it.”
The Associated Press reported this week the league and the union concluded two days of talks in New Jersey with help from mediators. Despite those sessions, NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr was quoted as saying he felt it would not be productive to continue further discussions.
All games through Dec. 14 have been cancelled, plus the New Year’s Day Winter Classic that would have featured the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. January’s All-Star weekend has also been shelved.
Tucker, a fan favourite in Toronto for eight seasons, appeared at a campaign fundraiser for provincial Progressive Conservative candidate Donna Skelly along with former Maple Leaf captain Wendel Clark, Leafs broadcaster Jim Ralph and former Chicago Blackhawk Dennis Hull.
“I think everybody needs to take a step back,” Tucker said. “The last lockout (during the 2004-05 season) the players did what the ownership wanted and it looks like it’s about time the players stood up for themselves.”
If negotiations fail to secure a reasonable offer, Tucker doesn’t fault the players for holding out.
“I think the players have said they’re willing to negotiate in good faith and work with the owners but not to the point where its all about players giving back again,” Tucker said.
Tucker, who toiled for 14 NHL seasons, enjoyed his best season in 2005-06 when he recorded 28 goals and 61 points for the Leafs. He retired following the 2009-10 season after playing for the Colorado Avalanche for two years.
Clark, who retired following 12 seasons as a Maple Leaf in 2000, was reluctant to weight in when asked for his thoughts on the lockout.
“We all miss hockey and we’re hoping it gets back, but it’s big business right now. It’s over my head.”