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(MIKE CASSESE)
(MIKE CASSESE)

Darcy Tucker announces retirement Add to ...

NHL players don't have to worry about pesky forward Darcy Tucker getting under their skin any longer.



The 35-year-old announced his retirement Friday after 15 seasons in the NHL. One of the game's most notorious agitators in his prime, Tucker acknowledged that his game had changed a little in recent years.



"I was pretty gentle near the end of my career," said Tucker. "I don't think any of those young guys quite realized what I was like when I was in the heyday. ...



"It's a good time to step back."



Even though Tucker spent his last two years in a Colorado Avalanche jersey, it's the seven-plus seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs he'll best be remembered for.



Tucker arrived via trade from Tampa Bay in February 2000 and almost instantly became a fan favourite. He was a fierce competitor who played with a reckless style that belied his small stature - occasionally crossing the line.



After arriving in Toronto, the five-foot-10, 178-pound winger provided a noticeable shot of adrenaline.



"When I got there, they were looking for some grit and a certain style of player," said Tucker. "It seemed to work out well for both of us."



Tucker had a career-best 28 goals and 61 points during the 2005-06 season with the Leafs. He also had 100 penalty minutes.



The native of Castor, Alta., ended up playing 947 career NHL games in all - amassing 215 goals and 476 points for Montreal, Tampa, Toronto and Colorado. Those are impressive numbers for a player many felt wouldn't be able to make the jump from junior scoring star to everyday NHLer.



Agent Carlos Sosa represented Tucker from the time he was 16 years old and will now be going into business with him. The two are forming a company called Turning Point Sports Management and will represent players together.



It was a natural step for two men who have grown close over the years.



"He was told his whole life he was too small, too slow and not good enough - and was able to fashion a very successful National Hockey League career," said Sosa. "He's a winner, he's a guy that you want to be allied with - at least I do - and I think that this is just the next stage and the next level.



"We're both looking forward to it."



While all of the details have yet to be finalized, Sosa expects Tucker to settle in Toronto with his wife and three kids.



The agent took some calls over the summer about potential employment for Tucker, but didn't receive any offers that made much sense. As many other players found out, it was a tough time to find a job in the NHL.



But Tucker doesn't leave the league with any regrets. He has plenty of fond memories - "playing my first (game) at the Montreal Forum and playing for the Leafs were big" - and doesn't think there was much unfinished business.



"I played the game hard throughout my career," said Tucker. "When you play as hard as I did for the number of years, things start to slow down - the foot speed, everything. It becomes difficult to ramp yourself up to the level that you need to get to.



"I was a competitor throughout my career and I want to be known as that."



Ultimately, it was his body that told him it was time to go.



"I'd say there's still bumps and bruises that are still lingering," said Tucker. "That's just part of being an NHLer."



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