I know there are many good reasons why this is a terrible idea and will never happen. I'm sure I could think of a few of them too but right now I'm so in love with this idea that I can't.
Okay so he's still on the books against the cap for a million dollars a season, but in a way that's the beauty of the idea. If they're going to pay him to play somewhere, they might as well pay him to play here.
Has this ever happened before? Has a player ever been bought out only to return to that team while his original contract was still being paid? For the Leafs, it might be a way to make amends for mistakes that were made on both sides, and to recoup some of that lost investment. For Tucker, it would be an honourable and honest way to make a living, a proud homecoming, and a chance to reconnect and relive the glory of his best years. For fans, a chance to heal and forgive, and then to forget the Muskoka Five and the Maurice regime, and remember instead the desire and passion of the Quinn era that elevated them.
If we had a spot on the team two seasons ago for Brad May and last year for Wayne Primeau, we should be able to find room for Darcy. Of course, don't just give the spot away, make him earn it, and if players like Caputi, Armstrong, and Hanson put Darcy in the press box, we'll be better for it. It occurs to me that Darcy would be an excellent motivator to have sitting in the press box for the young players, knowing he'd be ready to jump into any situation if a player is not working hard enough.
Just play around with the idea in your mind for a bit before you reject it. One of the great things about Tucker at this age is that he's versatile. He's matured and can be a mentor for young stars who'll need to know how to handle the pressure of a city like Toronto. He's tough and feisty, and if used sparingly, can be inserted when the Leafs are looking for that little extra edge. He can teach the young players about honour and bravery, backing up your teammates, and wearing your heart on your sleeve. He also knows his way around the side of the goal and could be useful as a secondary plug on a struggling powerplay.
Think of the line combinations you could see with Tucker as a utility player - patrolling Kadri's wing and driving the net with Versteeg on the right side, delivering a double-dose of crazy and hurricane-like forechecking with Grabovski and Kulemin, or just running over opponents with Hanson and Orr. I guess I'm ignoring the fact that what the Leafs really need is a left-winger and Darcy traditionally plays right, but it's not gonna happen anyways so I might as well imagine that he's equally good on both sides.
We did it for Cujo. We did it for Wendel, twice. We did it for Dougie, though it turned out to be for just one game. I'd do it for Darcy. I'd bring'im back, not just for one last hurrah or for old times sake, but to make a difference, to be that extra-man who gives us the edge, the guy who'll light a fire in the dressing room or bring the crowd to it's feet at just the right moment. Maybe I'm romanticizing the impact Tucker could have on the Leafs, but I don't doubt there'd be an enormous reaction the first time he stepped on the ice again in a Leafs uniform, and again for the first opponent he knocked down, his first goal, his first fight.
Just take a look at this:
Or skip that and just watch this:
"Man, you think about what's goin' on there, that is... that's scrambled eggs right there, Bill."
319 points in 531 games as a Maple Leaf to go along with 756 penalty minutes. Sure, the glory days are long behind him at age 35, but there's got to be something still left in the tank, and no doubt, a flicker of the same intense desire for battle that never truly dies. Tucker is 53 NHL games away from 1,000 and 24 points away from 500.
I know - terrible idea, never gonna happen. Still, it was fun to think about, and anyways, the last time I said Tucker should play for someone, that team ended up winning the Stanley Cup.
Oh well, if not Darcy Tucker, what about Owen Nolan? Oh wait... Doesn't he play right-wing as well? Say, what's Dave Andreychuk doing these days, anybody know?