FanPost

What Gleason could bring to Toronto


Hello, Toronto fans. My name is Cory Spiers, I am a contributor at Canes Country.

I know that when there is a new player on your team, first-hand accounts from people who have written about and watched that player can go a lot farther than YouTube highlight packages and scouting reports.

With that said, I put this together for you all regarding Gleason and some things you may have not known about him.

Congratulations on your Winter Classic showing, be safe in 2014.

Warm regards from myself and Canes Country.

On the surface, the deal between the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes that sends defenseman John-Michael Liles and the rights to Dennis Robertson to Carolina for defenseman Tim Gleason seems like little more than a shot at changing the scenery of two struggling defensemen with similarly structured contracts.

And while that is true, Toronto is perhaps gaining far more in Gleason than some connected with the organization realize.

A quick glance at Gleason’s statistics this season leaves a lot to be desired.

Never touted as an offensive force, Gleason has only one assist and no goals in the 17 games he has appeared in this season.

Also, his -7 +/- rating places him easily in the bottom fourth of the team in that regard.

What, then, makes Gleason a valuable commodity?

From someone who has watched him play since he was acquired by Carolina in 2006 from the Kings, I would contest you can sum up the former first round pick’s style of play in two words- warrior-like.

A glance back at Gleason’s stats during the shortened 2012-13 season don’t exactly do him justice, either.

That season, Gleason suited up for 42 games, collecting nine assists and finishing with a -3 +/- rating for the season.

To understand fully how a healthy Gleason can impact a lineup, the best season to study is the 2008-09 campaign- coincidentally the last time Carolina qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That season, Gleason, mostly healthy, appeared in 70 games and amassed 12 assists.

Gleason and Dennis Seidenberg were touted that year as being the quintessential "shutdown defenders" often being entrusted with the coverage of some of the finest players Carolina met in the classic run to the Eastern Conference Finals that year.

As the Hurricanes knocked off the Devils in the quarterfinals, Gleason helped to hold Zach Parise to three goals in the seven-game series.

In the second round matchup with Boston, Gleason and Seidenberg played a part in holding Patrice Bergeron goal-less.

Gleason and the Hurricanes would end up being swept by the Penguins, with Gleason finishing the playoffs with one goal and four assists and a -2 rating, appearing in all 18 games against top-line talent.

Despite the fact that Gleason has tasted the postseason only once in his NHL career, the defenseman has served as an alternate captain and even during long stretches of losses, Gleason can be counted on to take accountability.

Last season, after Carolina dropped their seventh game in a row and franchise-record eighth-straight at home, Gleason stayed stoic and strong after another loss.

"The old saying is that it’s not over until it’s over," Gleason said in an interview with Hurricanes.com. "Everyone in here has a job to do, and you have to do it to the best of your ability. From a personal standpoint, I think that’s what you look at."

That fighter’s attitude is appropriate, as Gleason has been known to drop the gloves under the right circumstances, too.

In 491 games for Carolina, Gleason has 493 penalty minutes.

The penalties are typically not what most would consider ill-advised, either. His career high in PIMs while in Carolina came in 2010-11 when he totaled 85.

His archive of fight footage on Hockey Fights.com and YouTube, while perhaps not as extensive as the George Parros’ of the league, will show you a few five minute penalties that have inflated his totals over the years.

Indeed, Gleason plays like a warrior.

A silver medalist with team USA in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, some fans were clamoring for Gleason to be the fifth captain of the Hurricanes when former-captain Rod Brind’Amour was bumped down to alternate captain that same year.

Once Eric Staal was instead named to the role, Gleason has donned the "A" on his sweater for many games in the meantime.

What has contributed to the downfall of Gleason’s play could largely be due to injuries.

Some analyzing his play say he seems like he has "lost a step" which is entirely possible considering he has had a tough time staying healthy for Carolina recently.

Since signing a 4-year, $16 million contract extension with the Hurricanes in 2012, Gleason has found his way to the injured reserve list with a lower-body injury as well as a concussion.

Looking at the 28 games missed with various injuries during the 2013 calendar year, and it would seem that perhaps Gleason has slowed down because injuries have mounted up.

Gleason has been praised for being active in the community, as well.

He is known for being enthusiastic about the 24-hour bike challenge held at the Raleigh Orthopedic Clinic. The charity event raises money for the Kids’N Community Foundation.

"There's nothing better when we get a chance to do this, you'd do it any time you can," Gleason said in an interview with WRAL. "To give back, and then get some exercise at the same time is even better."

A change of scenery coupled with the time the 30-year old needs to get healthy could yield promising results for Toronto.

If there was ever one series of events that sums up Gleason when he is at his best, it came in December of 2009.

Late in the first period of a matchup against the Capitals, Gleason deflected an Alex Ovechkin shot with his own stick, causing the puck to ricochet upward and glance off his face.

He did return -the beneficiary of 30 stitches and a full face shield.

As if poetically scripted, he jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone while on the penalty kill in the third period and rocketed a slapshot that tied the game at three.

The Hurricanes went on to lose in overtime, but Gleason’s heroics were a large part of the extra point in the standings.

"He's unbelievable", Brandon Sutter said in an interview with Canes Country. "He’s one of those guys who always shows a lot of character and he's been doing that for us all year."

Gleason, with his signature in-game scowl, may not be the most-searched player on NHL.com.

More than likely, a lot of what he has done on and off the ice with Carolina has gone under the radar, and he probably prefers it that way.

Dave Nonis has been on record as saying Gleason will have to earn his ice time, and that’s good.

Gleason seems to play better with a chip on his shoulder.

He was one of my favorites, as a fan and reporter.

It’s bittersweet because of his injury struggles and subsequent drop-off in on-ice production, but in the business of hockey, such moves are inevitable.

Gleason may surpass your expectations, or he may not. But either way, I think you will, as I have, grow to appreciate his demeanor and work ethic.

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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