The Canes' Tim Gleason said he wasn't looking for a fight. But when a fight came looking for him ...
"I stand up for myself," the defenseman said today. "I don't hit people who I know don't fight. I have zero interest in people who don't fight."
That would be people like forward Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But at the end of the first period last night at the RBC Center, there was a scrum in front of the Canes bench. During it, Kulemin threw a jab at Gleason.
"I could have dropped my gloves there, but I didn't," Gleason said.
Gleason took a few more jabs, then had had enough. He threw a punch of his own, leaving Kulemin bloodied. Gleason was given a fighting major and game misconduct; Kulemin was done for the night as the Canes won 6-4.
"I took one and I didn't (drop the gloves)," Gleason said. "Then I took two and I thought, 'Well, if you're going to keep punching me in the face, I don't know what else to do.' I have to protect myself. ... It's almost like a boxer getting hit in the face.
"I don't wish anything like that upon anybody. In a way I feel bad because of what happened. I'm getting his phone number today and will give him a call. And hopefully he answers. If not I'll leave a message. That's all I can do."
After the ejection, Gleason returned to the locker room to lift weights and watch the game on TV. He said he did make a quick call to his father.
"I called the ol' Pops," he said. "He was probably more sour than I was. He was yelling and screaming. If he was the head coach he would have been kicked out for 10 games probably."
Gleason said he watched the replay about 30 times last night, staying up until 2:30 a.m. He was wearing a small bandage over the knuckle of his right forefinger today. which he said was evidence of the fight.
"I feel bad," he said. "I'm not a type of player like that, I don't care what anybody says. If they have a problem, well, I'm here."