With his name being regularly tossed into the rumor mill, Tim Gleason
was officially taken off the market today when he signed a four-year contract extension with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Identified as a core player by Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford, Gleason’s deal keeps him with the team through the 2015-16 season, alongside Eric Staal
and Cam Ward
For Gleason, living in an area that is family friendly and having a strong core of players solidified for the next few years made the decision to stay an easy one.
“I have a family now. If I was by myself, it’d be kind of a 'whatever' thing,” he said. “Having a family and having them like it here has a big impact on our decision. That’s most important.
“The team that we have, the way that we’re going forward and how things have changed around in the last month or two are some things I have to look at, too.”
Gleason, who turned 29 on Sunday, is in his sixth year with the Hurricanes. He leads team defenseman this season in hits (87), plus/minus (plus-2) and total minutes played (1,063). In December, Gleason played his 500th game in the NHL. Of those 500, 375 were played with this franchise.
That all became uncertain as the trade deadline grew closer. Gleason was slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Add that to the fact that he can bring a gritty, veteran presence to a blue-line, and he makes the perfect candidate for a deadline deal with a playoff-bound team.
Gleason said he'd run through the possibilities in his head, one of them being a "rental" player somewhere else and re-signing here in the offseason. Even he couldn't shake the trade talk.
“It’s kind of a nightmare, but it comes with the territory,” he said. “I was going somewhere every day for the last month.”
Knowing that aspect was somewhat out of his control might have been the most frustrating. But the Hurricanes management was willing to negotiate mid-season, something largely unprecedented for Rutherford. Gleason said this signaled a lot of respect between both parties.
“Deep down, my wife and I have talked over and over and over again about wanting to stay,” he said. “It came to a good conclusion.”
The last time Gleason was traded, he was 23 years old, having played two NHL seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. Making the journey from the West coast to the East coast, he admittedly didn’t know if the Triangle would become home. Now, he has no doubts.
In addition to raising a family in the area, Gleason has become a leader on and off the ice. He was named an Alternate Captain with forward Brandon Sutter
coming into the 2009-10 season.
“He’s bought into what we’re doing,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “Off-ice, he knows his role with the team. He’s a quiet leader, but on the same token, he gains a lot of respect in the room from his play. He’s just a real professional.”
Gleason has had the most success this season paired with fellow gritty defenseman Bryan Allen
, perhaps not the most conventional of pairings. It’s one that has worked and has given the Canes a tough twosome for opponents to face, especially in the dirty areas.
“He’s played hard, and he’s done a great job of shutting the top lines recently,” Muller said. “The organization is real excited that he wanted to make a commitment to stay here and be a part of what we’re doing.”
Fresh off inking his new deal, Gleason enjoyed the ribbing of his teammates. He led the team stretch at the conclusion of practice and lost focus during a post-practice interview while Chad LaRose
yelled, “Cha-ching!” in the background.
“They say I have to buy lunch and buy some dinners, and I told them that doesn’t start until next year, so that’s my excuse,” Gleason said.
Seeing such interactions between teammates indicates a strong bond within the locker room. Gleason said friendships, sometimes hard to come by, are an important facet in wanting to stay with a team. Obviously, there is no shortage of them here.
“At the end of the day, it’s a place where you want to play hockey and a place where you want to live,” he said. “We’re just very ecstatic.”