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Hurricanes bring back Tim Gleason

Tim Gleason knows some will question the Carolina Hurricanes’ decision to bring him back and give him a new contract.

The Canes signed Gleason on Thursday to a one-year, $1.2 million deal, a little more than seven months after trading the defenseman to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I’m obviously excited to get back,” Gleason said Thursday. “I know the area and the organization and this will be a clean slate for myself.

“I know some people probably look at me and say I’m over the hill or almost there, but I’m 31. I want to prove to everybody that I can still do it and do it for a long time. I know I’ve got it in me.”

Canes general manager Ron Francis announced the signing.

“The Canes are aware of what Gleason can do when he’s healthy, committed and playing hard,” Francis said.

Gleason spent parts of eight mostly productive seasons with Carolina, helping the Canes reach the NHL Eastern Conference finals in 2009. He was a rugged, physical force on the blue line and a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won silver in the 2010 Winter Games.

But Gleason, who served as an alternate captain for Carolina, suffered a concussion in a preseason game last year and missed the first 10 games. He later had some back issues that kept him out of more games and wasn’t always effective when he did play.

On New Year’s Day, the Canes traded him to the Leafs for defenseman John-Michael Liles and defensive prospect Dennis Robertson.

At the time, Gleason said, “I knew I needed a change.” But things didn’t work out so well for Gleason in Toronto.

“I thought I had a great couple of months and things were working out well, then we faded out,” Gleasonn said. “Obviously I’m a defensive defenseman. When we were down a goal I didn’t play a lot. Before, we were winning games, but after the Olympic break we kind of went south.”

Gleason played 39 games for the Leafs and finished with a minus-14 rating. Earlier this week, the Leafs bought out his contract for $5.7 million, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Gleason said Thursday he has no lingering health issues, and the concussion did not make him alter his style of play.

“I feel great. I feel like I’m 20 years old,” he said, laughing. “OK, maybe not 20, but I’m feeling good.”

Gleason said he had not had a chance to speak to new Canes coach Bill Peters, but added, “From what I hear he likes hard work and a strong work ethic. That’s what I believe in.”

Gleason said he would spend part of the summer in Raleigh training and preparing for the start of preseason camp.

“I know there are things I can work on and get better,” he said. “I want to help this team get back in the playoffs. I want to win. That’s what it’s all about. I want to win a Stanley Cup.”

NOTES: The Canes on Thursday signed defenseman Michal Jordan and forward Jared Staal to one-year, two-way contracts. Both played with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League last season.

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip
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