You hear a lot of coaches talk about "grit", either describing a player on the team who provides it or his team's lack of it. It generally means a willingness to do thankless, dirty jobs on the ice while also providing a kind of intangible nastiness that tends to rub off on teammates in the form of attitude. They're usually the players you hate unless they're on your team, when they go from being a jerk to being your jerk. It's a quality that may be hard to define but it's easy to notice when your team has it, and even easier when your team doesn't. In the late '90s, a particularly bleak period in Lightning history, the Bolts had a player who had grit to spare in Darcy Tucker.
Tucker made his way to the NHL through the Montreal Canadiens system. Prior to that, he was part of three Memorial Cup winning teams with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. The Lightning acquired him along with Stephane Richer and David Wilkie from the Canadiens in exchange for Patrick Poulin, Igor Ulanov and Mick Vukota midway through the 95-96 season. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000 for Mike Johnson. While with the Lightning, he served as an assistant captain and tallied 41 goals and 50 assists while racking up 373 penalty minutes over the 167 games he played for Tampa Bay What was probably the defining moment of Tucker's Lightning career happened on April 4, 1998 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at what was known at the time as the Ice Palace:
In spite of the mock gravitas of the team's marketing campaign at the time, the team was simply not good. Remember the ads featuring the extremely dramatic announcer who had previously either hosted a Saturday afternoon horror movie showcase or spent a lot of time at ren fairs? He would intone a list of names separated by the single peal of a mournful church bell: "Vincent Lecavalier" *DONG!* "Darcy Tucker" *DONG!*"Steve Ludzik" *DONG!* and then the tagline "Don't miss...The Future!". Dongs or no dongs, more often than not, Lightning fans left the arena in a bad mood back in those days. However, they frequently took comfort in the fact that opponents... and sometimes referees... did too, thanks to the efforts of Darcy Tucker.
He retired after the 2009-10 season, one of two he spent with the Colorado Avalanche. In 1998, he married future Toronto teammate Shayne Corson's sister Shannon. They have two sons and a daughter.
(Others to wear the #16 for the Lightning include Chris Kontos, Jason Lafreniere, Ben Hankinson, Troy Mallette, Juha Ylonen, Alexander Svitov, Jim Campbell, Jason Ward, Drew Miller, Mark Parrish and Teddy Purcell.)
Clark Brooks thinks he's funny. He wrote a book last year, which can be purchased here. It's purple.