Darcy Tucker started his NHL career in Montreal with the Canadiens and spent eight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs before signing with the Colorado Avalanche in July. Whenever his schedule allows, Tucker gets to the rink to cheer on his eight-year-old son, Cole. Tucker also has two other children: Owynn, nine, and Cain, two.
Darcy Tucker’s top 5 tips for kids in hockey
1. Think beyond the game. Not all hockey skills are physical, says Tucker: The game also teaches discipline, teamwork and sportsmanship. “Playing hockey can help you better yourself — whatever career path you choose.”
2. Don’t overdose on hockey. “Today it seems like everyone has a summer hockey team, or they’re training all year. When I was growing up, hockey ended on the last day of the season. You put away your skates and equipment and then you started swimming, or playing baseball or soccer.”
3. Keep in shape. As a 13-year NHL veteran, Tucker knows the importance of staying fit and avoiding injuries. “For a long time, I was one of those guys who was just naturally in good shape. But the older you get, the more you realize that you have to work at your craft.” For young players, that means stretching before games, getting regular exercise and laying off the junk food.
4. Play to your strengths. At five-foot-ten and 178 pounds, Tucker is the smallest player on the Avalanche. As a young player, he knew he wasn’t going to impress NHL scouts with his size. “Eventually you learn that you have to do other things to get to that next level.” For Tucker, that meant surpassing everyone in tenacity, hustle and fearlessness.
5. Know when to chill. No one has ever accused Tucker of being laid-back, so this lesson comes via his son, who is a lot less intense than his dad. “If anything bothers Cole, he turns it into something fun, like making a joke in the dressing room. Sometimes I wish I had been a little bit more like him.”