Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason was added to the roster of the U.S. Olympic hockey team today.
Gleason is taking the place of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury on Jan. 2.
Gleason was one of two defenseman inserted into the U.S. team’s roster because of injuries. Anaheim Ducks’ defenseman Ryan Whitney replaced Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils.
“We have tried to identify particular skill sets, particular jobs, in putting this team together,” Brian Burke, general manager of the team said in a conference call minutes after the announcement. “And if you look at the replacement parts here, the players that are going in are eerily similar to the players that they’re replacing, in terms of what they bring to a roster for a short tournament.”
Burke said Gleason, like Komisarek, is useful for killing penalties, blocking shots, finishing checks and eating up ice time against big forwards.
A sixth-year NHL veteran, Gleason has a career-high five goals and 10 assists through 48 games this season. He ranks 20th among NHL defensemen with 119 hits.
Gleason played on the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships in 2001 and 2003, as well as in the 2008 Ice Hockey Federation World Championships.
Gleason and Whitney were both among a dozen defensemen that attended Olympic orientation camp this summer in the suburbs outside Chicago.
“So he was always in the mix,” associate general manager David Poile added on the call. “When we put this together, there was not a unanimous decision. Gleason was a player that almost made the original seven (defensemen).”
Gleason’s play against the likes of Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby this season helped make the case for Gleason, a decision, apparently, not finalized until earlier today.
“So I think he’s a guy that’s got some experience,” Poile said. “I think he’s a guy that will go to war for us and give us exactly what this team needs, especially to replace Komisarek. This is a pretty easy decision.”