KAMLOOPS — With two months before Hockey Day in Canada comes to Kamloops, former Blazers star Darcy Tucker is getting ready to return to the place where his hockey career all began.
Tucker was part of the Blazers' dynasty that won three Memorial Cups in four years, including at home in Kamloops in 1995. Tucker has the distinguished honour of being one of just four junior players to capture three Memorial Cups. Three of the four are Blazers.
"It was a special spot to a lot of us young guys," says Tucker, who played four seasons in Kamloops from 1991 to 1995. "We moved there away from home. We had great mentors. Two names that come to mind are Bob Brown, who was the General Manager of the team, and Don Hay. Great community, great booster club, great billets."
Tucker was a standout rookie in the 1991-92 season, the first championship in franchise history. Tucker will get reunited with former Blazers for Hockey Day in Canada, including Mark Recchi and teammate Corey Hirsch.
Tucker says it was one special game in minor hockey that put him on the path to Kamloops.
"A videotape that a guy named Tim Arnold had sent into Bob Brown. I think I scored five or six points in the game. He said he didn't take me because I scored the five or six points, he took me because I got knocked down 22 times and got up and just kept getting back up, so I guess he saw something in me," says Tucker.
With hockey being front and centre, Ron McLean and Don Cherry will be here during the four-day event, and broadcasting live across the country from the Sandman Centre on February 6th, leading up to the Blazers and Edmonton Oil Kings game that night.
"I think it'll show how much people love the game, how much they love to follow it," says Blazers GM Stu MacGregor. "It's nothing but the best when young prospects watch the game. It just a great event."
The focus will also be on Kamloops Minor Hockey, with games happening all around the city on Saturday. All through the week, though, there will be clinics for the kids.
"There's going to be four clinics on Thursday and Friday," says President of Kamloops Minor Hockey Jon Pankuch. "The Maple Leafs are going to be helping out with a few clinics, and some local talent that's going to help us out as well. We've got about 80 kids per session coming out, so it's going to be fun-filled."
Tucker says he's looking forward to returning to the former Riverside Coliseum, where he remembers how great the fans were during the 1990s.
"The fan support that we had at that time. That rink was packed. We had sellouts every single game," Tuckers remembers. "To be able to have a fan base like that, that was cheering that loudly every night we went on the ice, you don't get that in every junior market. But we certainly had it there in Kamloops."
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