After learning on Tuesday that his days as a Maple Leaf are numbered, Darcy Tucker is looking forward to moving on.
Tucker, 33, commented on Maple Leafs interim general manager Cliff Fletcher's decision that the forward will be bought out and become an unrestricted free agent, after teeing off at the Nationwide Tour's Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic in Clarksburg, Ont., on Thursday.
"I look at it as an opportunity," said Tucker. "A door is opening for me here and there are teams out there that I think would be thrilled to have me in their lineup."
The forward said that he "had an inkling" that the move could happen, but it didn't prepare him for the disappointment he's felt.
"Obviously, it's something I wasn't looking forward to, but it's happened," he said. "And my family is obviously sad, because we're going to have to pick up and move from Toronto. It's been our home for eight years."
The native of Castor, Alta., added that leaving his teammates and the fans that supported him will be the most difficult part of the move.
"That's the sad part of it for us, is leaving our friends in Toronto and the guys that I've played with," he said. "And the fans have been great to me. I've been very fortunate to have the fan base supporting this hockey club."
Tucker posted 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points in 74 games last season, his eighth with Toronto. One of the NHL's feistier forwards, he has 197 goals and 436 points in 813 games since he was drafted in the sixth round (151st overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.
"I don't think anybody can question how hard I've worked for this organization or what I've given to this hockey club," Tucker said. "There'll always be something in the pit of my stomach that wasn't accomplished here in Toronto, and that's winning a Stanley Cup, but … I only have fond memories."
Tucker has three years and $9 million US remaining on the contract extension he signed Feb. 27, 2007.
The Maple Leafs can buy him out for two-thirds of the contract, or $6 million, over the next six years.