Hockey can make some for some unexpected, if interesting twists and turns.
Tim Gleason and John-Michael Liles, for example. Last season, the Canes traded Gleason to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that sent Liles to the Canes. On Friday night they'll be defensive partners for the Canes against the Leafs.
"It's how it goes sometimes. It's funny how things work out," Liles said Friday.
Then there's Canes forward Brad Malone and Leafs defenseman Andrew MacWilliam. The two once were teammates and roommates at North Dakota, playing college hockey and talking of one day possibly being in the NHL.
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Malone is a fourth-line winger for the Canes and will play his 99th career NHL game Friday. MacWilliam, 24, was an emergency callup from the Toronto Marlies, hopeful of making his NHL debut Friday.
"He's a big, physical defenseman and it's great to see him get a call and an opportunity," Malone said Friday. "All those years you talk about playing and it's obviously a dream to play in the NHL. It's pretty special to be here and play against him in his first game if he gets that opportunity.
"It's exciting but we won't be friends out there. He's the kind who would put me through the wall just as quick as I will."
Odds are MacWilliam will not play, but Gleason and Liles will. Liles spent parts of three seasons with the Leafs and last season also put in 16 games with the Marlies, the Leafs' AHL team.
Liles' defensive partner with the Marlies was Petter Granberg, who has played four games for the Leafs this season. Granberg was in the lineup Tuesday when the Leafs were beaten 3-2 by the Florida Panthers.
Granberg, 22, has credited Liles with being a mentor, an older veteran sharing and helping with his development. Liles, in turn, believes Granberg can be a good NHL player.
"But we're just trying to win a hockey game tonight, not worry about who we've played with as (defensive) partners," Liles said.
Liles said he and Gleason have chatted about last season, about one coming to the Canes on New Year's Day while the other headed to Toronto. Gleason then signed a one-year free-agent contract with Carolina after the season, making the two teammates.
"We've talked and shared some insight," Liles said, smiling. "But now all that is in the past."
The Leafs had won six straight and were on a 10-1-1 on Dec. 18, when they last visited PNC Arena, while the Canes had lost six straight. Both streaks ended as the Canes won 4-1 and it was the beginning of a 4-21-2 free fall by the Leafs.
Also troubling to some of the Leafs was a 4-1 loss to the Canes on Jan. 19 at Air Canada Centre. In the final moments, Canes captain Eric Staal fired a big slapshot at an empty net -- or was it at Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf?
Leafs coach Peter Horachek dismissed it Friday as a "hockey play," noting Eric Staal earlier came to Jordan Staal's defense and fought Phaneuf after Phaneuf put a big hit on Jordan.
Leafs forward Daniel Winnik talked Friday about possible retribution against Eric Staal -- Phaneuf is out with a hand injury -- and goalie James Reimer called Staal's shot "disrespectful."
As for the hockey part of it, Reimer will be the starter for the Leafs and face the Canes' Cam Ward, who will be playing his 499th game.
"We need to be better and we need to start on time," Canes coach Bill Peters said.