News: St. Petersburg Times - 3/19/98
Richer, Tucker Ignite Lightning
By Tim Buckley
His bum ankle is so sore he couldn't skate
in the morning. He doesn't have to do too much more
to prove he is the real deal. And the games count for
little, except perhaps pride.
But try telling Lightning center Darcy Tucker he can
take a break, and the response is like the one Tucker
delivered Wednesday night.
Tucker overcame the pain and proved a point about his
character Wednesday, scoring one goal and assisting
on two others as Tampa Bay beat Vancouver 4-2 in
front of an Ice Palace crowd of 13,842 that included
cancer-stricken Lightning center John Cullen.
"We're both the type of guys who want to do anything
to help a team win," Tucker said. "I have the utmost
respect for John Cullen, as a player and a person."
So with Cullen watching, Tucker could only aid the
He did that by assisting on a Stephane Richer goal
that tied the game, scoring a late first-period goal
that put the Lightning ahead 2-1 and assisting on what
proved to be the game-winner by linemate Jody Hull
35 seconds into the second period.
Tucker got his goal on a power-play, when his pass to
Alex Selivanov deflected off Canucks defenseman
Bret Hedican and past Canucks goalie Garth Snow.
The 5-foot-11, 182-pound center picked up an assist
on Richer's first-period goal, scored when Richer
emerged from behind Snow's net with a Hull pass and
took tough-angle shot to answer Alexander Mogilny's
Tucker got his second assist by taking the shot that
Hull tipped past Snow early in the second, and that
plus the 33-save goaltending of Mark Fitzpatrick was
good for the last-place Lightning's 15th win of the
Richer wound up with two goals and two assists in a
four-point night, and Hull finished with three points
himself (one goal, two assists).
So the line with Richer on the right wing, Hull on the
left and Tucker in the middle produced 10 points.
But that's not all.
"We asked Tucker, Richer and Jody Hull to cover one
of the best lines in hockey -- (Mark) Messier's line
with (Pavel) Bure," Demers said. "They did a good
And they did it on just their second night together.
"I think we complement each other well," Hull said.
"You've got scoring in Stephane, an up-and-down
mucker in Tucker and myself thinking defense first."
"Hully's good defensively," Tucker said. "I think
that's what makes the line click."
Yet it was the effort of Tucker that perhaps best
personified the qualities Lightning fans loved so much
in Cullen, who is in a fight for his life with
Small but feisty and not much bigger than Cullen,
Tucker plays with much the same grit. He plays the
same position. And he plays like he loves the game,
which he truly does.
"Maybe a lot of people don't know about him, but I
know him from Montreal and this kid works hard night
after night," said Richer, who along with Tucker and
defenseman David Wilkie was traded to Tampa Bay on
Jan. 15. "Every shift he's out there trying to prove
himself. He works harder than anybody you'll find. He
doesn't mind paying the price to get the job done. I
have a lot of respect for that kid."
Richer is not alone.
"He's feisty, like Cully," Lightning forward Mikael
Andersson said. "They really work through everything,
and really move their feet and arms. They're tough
guys to play against. I think they're alike in a lot of
"A lot of guys say that," said Tucker, 22, who readily
acknowledges he is not yet the All-Star player Cullen
"I think Johnny is a lot more skilled than I am," added
Tucker, who played on gimpy, bruised right ankle. "I'm
more of a mucker and grinder. I'll be the first to
admit that. But if guys compliment me like that, I'll
take it with a smile because I know what John Cullen
is all about."
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