TORONTO – Tim Gleason and his wife, Candice, woke up on the first day of 2014 and made a life-altering decision that would send the 30-year-old and his family to the city of Toronto.
Gleason, who had spent eight seasons in the Carolina Hurricanes organization, decided to waive his no-trade clause and switch teams for the first time since 2006.
"We contemplated it for a week or a couple weeks on and off and we just looked at each other and said enough is enough," Gleason explained, "because it's an everyday thing of handling whether they want you there or they want you out, if it was better for my career to move on. We woke up and just said we've got to do it and so that's what we did."
Gleason was sent to the Maple Leafs in exchange for John-Michael Liles and defensive prospect, Dennis Robertson.
He had been a member of the Hurricanes since the fall of 2006 when he was flipped from the L.A. Kings, alongside Eric Belanger, in a deal for now-Columbus defender Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky.
His state of being was considerably different back then. He wasn't married for one and didn't have three young kids, two girls and a boy, to think about. Nor did he own the no-trade clause which allowed him to determine where he wanted to continue his career – there were a handful of teams that he was considering.
"There's a lot more that has to do with [it] than just picking up yourself and going," said Gleason, who averaged 16 minutes this season, down from nearly 20 per game last season.
"You want to go to a place where there's an opportunity, obviously and a place where you can fit properly."
That fit had evidently run its course with Kirk Muller and the Hurricanes, the end seemingly beginning during a Sept. 21 preseason game in Montreal.
Gleason squared off that night with Jarred Tinordi and suffered a concussion from the scrap. His role, upon return from the injury, dwindled with rookie Brett Bellemore assuming increased opportunity from the Carolina coaching staff.
A fiery presence, who better fits the Randy Carlyle mold than Liles, Gleason is hoping to reignite his career in Toronto.
"It's kind of a laid-back situation there," said Gleason of Raleigh, North Carolina, "easy-living, good weather, beautiful place to play. But hockey career-wise, it was a decision that had to be made. This is the hockey place where you want to play."
With an injury to Carl Gunnarsson (elbow) and the embarrassment of a 7-1 loss to the Rangers on Saturday evening, a door has opened into the Leafs lineup for the Michigan native. He is likely to step right onto the team's top pairing with Dion Phaneuf.
"We're asking Tim Gleason to play the way he's accustomed to playing," Carlyle said of the former Windsor Spitfire last week. "He's etched out an NHL career being a strong, physical defensive defenceman. We think that he has something to offer to our group."
Carlyle was suitably displeased with the performance of his group in its most recent lopsided defeat and singled out the lack of compete as a trait to be improved upon heading into Tuesday's game against the Islanders.
"We're not going to have success unless we're prepared to go in and win our share of battles in those areas and quite frankly, we didn't do enough of it in the last game," said Carlyle, who is considering a juggling of the entire defence for the game against New York.
Described by Leafs general manager Dave Nonis as "very competitive" on the day of the trade, Gleason should, at the very least, be of some help in that regard.
It remains to be seen how much aid he can offer to a club that's struggled badly to defend all year and especially of late. The Leafs have allowed 40 shots or more in four of the past five games, including 50 against the Rangers on Saturday.