’s reputation as a tough player seemed to reach an all time high over the weekend. As it turns out, we didn’t know the half of it.
Despite returning to Friday night’s game at Washington, scoring the game-tying goal while shorthanded and then playing nearly 20 minutes the very next night, Gleason had not felt well enough to practice until Thursday. He will miss Friday’s game at Florida and is questionable to play in the return leg of the home-and-home series with the Panthers the following night.
Gleason and the Hurricanes’ coaching staff have not confirmed that the player is dealing with concussion-like symptoms following the Alex Ovechkin shot to the face that required 30 stitches (“I’ll kick you out of this room, boy,” was a playful Gleason’s response to that question on Thursday). However, it is clear that the injury is bothering him more than was initially thought, especially since he resumed a high level of play not long after the incident.
“I should have taken it lightly on Saturday (against Ottawa). I just kind of went with it,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was all there on Saturday, but I felt it was good enough.”
Gleason practiced with the full shield he wore over the weekend, which he will need to wear for the next week or so if he is able to resume playing. Don’t expect to see it much longer than that, no matter how gruesome the injury may have been and how much certain members of his family would like for it to stay.
“My mother would dream of that,” he said, smiling.
Gleason could only shake his head when recalling the play in which he was injured. He did everything he was supposed to in getting a stick on Ovechkin’s shot, but it just so happened that the puck happened to take a strange bounce and head straight for the area just under his left eye.
“I guess I played it perfectly,” he said. “I don’t want to play it perfectly ever again.”
That marked the second time Gleason was injured by Ovechkin in just over two weeks, having also received a knee-on-knee hit on November 30 that saw Ovechkin suspended, even though Gleason only missed a few shifts.
What did Gleason ever do to Ovechkin, anyway?
“I don’t know, but strike three and he’s out,” joked Gleason. “I’ll have to find a way, if I have to shoot a puck at him or what.”
Upon returning to the most recent meeting, Gleason tried to exact a small amount of revenge on the Capitals’ star player, but instead found out why few have been successful in that regard.
“The shift I got out there I saw him coming down and I wanted to give it to him,” he recalled. “I hit him so hard, but it didn’t really move him. He’s a solid human being.”
Although it didn’t contribute to his injury, the hit may have actually done more harm than good in the short term.
“The red stuff on my face scattered onto my visor and I couldn’t really see much after that, so I had to go back and clean it up. That was kind of funny,” he said, before seeing the surrounding reporters’ reactions and trailing off somewhat. “At least I thought it was funny at the time.”
How Gleason could have laughed at that time is beyond comprehension, but should only add to recent celebrations about the player’s temperament and determination.
“They say it builds character,” he said, before once again shaking his head. “I don’t know how in the (heck) it builds character.”
More character? In this case, that might not be possible.