Tim Gleason

Alternate captain Tim Gleason put in nearly 500 games for the Carolina Hurricanes and was by, all accounts, a very popular teammate. But for the last several years, he just hadn’t been the same, and was slowly losing his grip on a spot in the top six. Wednesday afternoon, the inevitable happened, and Gleason was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for John-Michael Liles and a prospect.

Liles, like Gleason, had also been going through a rut, even finding himself in the AHL playing for the Marlies — decidedly not where the 33-year-old had expected he’d be at this stage of his career.

To their credit, neither player publicly complained about their diminishing roles.

In terms of value, the swap is as even as it gets. Neither player appeared to have much, and the contracts are basically a wash with each waiving a no-trade clause in order to secure a fresh start. And that’s what this trade is really about.

Though Gleason provided many memorable moments, including a silver medal for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, he had declined to such an extent that he became the Hurricanes’ worst defenseman in terms of shot-attempt differential for the last several years. His speed isn’t what it once was either, but he will never be accused of leaving something in the tank.

Liles’ offensive prowess that he displayed while with the Colorado Avalanche had been largely absent in Toronto. And if he isn’t scoring, he isn’t as effective.

The emergence of Brett Bellemore for the Hurricanes, and Jake Gardiner and Morgan Reilly for the Maple Leafs, had pushed the pair of defensemen down their respective depth charts, becoming redundant with their old clubs. Yet they fill a need for their new ones. The ‘Canes hope they have found their long-coveted puck-moving defenseman while the Leafs will look to Gleason to provide stability and a physical presence on their back end.

Liles is especially glad to be back in the NHL with a chance to make an impact.

“It was kind of an up and down ride in Toronto, the last few years,” he said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity to come here and join this team.”

And he received a glowing endorsement from former teammate Mike Komisarek.

“I talked to him quite a bit,” he said. “He said he really loves it down here. When he found out about the trade, he said you’re going to love it and really enjoy being part of this team. Just the atmosphere and everything associated with it.”

As the Hurricanes continue in their quest to acquire every Maple Leafs blueliner of the late 2000s, they bid goodbye to a player who had been a staple on theirs for the last 7 seasons and change. It’s not farewell forever, though, as Gleason will return to Raleigh with his new team on January 9.

Neither Gleason nor Liles are ready to call it a career yet. Both have work to do, but a change of scenery was the best thing that could have happened to either player.

About The Author

Andrew Luistro graduated from Appalachian State University. An avid sports fan, he began beat writing for the Sunbelt Hockey Journal, part of The Hockey Writers Network, with a focus on the Carolina Hurricanes. Andrew also actively follows the Boston Red Sox and Carolina Panthers, among other teams. Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7

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