When Tim Gleason arrived in a trade with Los Angeles on Septerm 29, 2006, the Caniac Nation was happy just to have someone who wanted to be there. He came in a deal for Jack Johnson who was the #3 overall pick for the Canes in the 2005 draft and was still unsigned after some prickly back and forth trying to get it done.
As a player who played with an intensity, edge and physical component, Gleason quickly became a fan favorite. His style was that of a throwback hockey warrior from days gone by. He would step into any fight to defend or protect a teammate or police any nonsense on the ice. He would play through injury if possible. He was the kind of player who was respected by opponents, appreciated by teammates and loved by fans.
In his nine seasons in a Canes sweater, Tim Gleason grew to become a core part of the team and leader. In that time, he played in 546 games ranking him fifth all-time in Canes history (as of August 2015). He collected 14 goals, 93 assists and was regularly amongst the league leaders in hits and volume of work defending teammates.
His best season as a Carolina Hurricane was probably the 2008-09 season. In that season, the stay-home Gleason found chemistry with the puck-moving, freelancing Joe Corvo, and the duo became an unheralded but solid top four pairing. His point totals were modest but his contribution to a solid blue line was not, and the Hurricanes went on to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06.
It was his first taste of NHL playoff hockey. There he continued his strong defensive play and even threw in a dash of rare offensive heroics to help fuel the Canes back-to-back wild seven-game series wins. In the first round series against New Jersey Tim Gleason scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory in game two of the series and then picked up three more assists in the series including two in the game seven finale that the Canes won 4-3. His diving keep in at the blue line that steered the puck to Joni Pitkanen with time winding down in the game and the Canes playoff life is one of the iconic memories from the 2009 playoffs. Pitkanen received Gleason’s desperate save and zipped it cross-ice to Jussi Jokinen who finished to tie the game that the Canes ultimately won. It became an highlight for the playoffs and also Tim Gleason’s career. Gleason went on to contribute one goal and four assists in the 2009 playoffs.
Tim Gleason is the type of player that you ultimately remember first how he played the game and went about his business. He was also a key part of the Canes 2009 playoff run. For that, he deserves a permanent place in Hurricanes hockey history.