TORONTO Canes defenseman Tim Gleason said he first realized something was wrong when he couldn't hear out of his right ear.
Gleason had engaged Jarred Tinordi of the Montreal Canadiens in a fight during a Sept. 21 preseason game at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Both exchanged some heavy blows and Gleason said he took a particularly hard one of the left side of his head.
"It was weird," he said. "I went to the (penalty) box and couldn't hear. Everything else was fine and I played the period and couldn't hear anything out of that ear.
"I sat down after the period and said, 'What the heck, I'm off-balance.' Then it just kind of got worse in the days ahead, with the dizziness and things like that."
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Gleason had suffered a concussion, which has sidelined him through the first seven games of the regular season. He noted he took a puck square in the face a few years ago and was out for about 10 days, but that a concussion was a different sensation, with different problems.
"It's something I've never really had to handle," he said.
Gleason said he recently consulted with Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins, executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC) Concussion Program, when the Canes played the Pens in Pittsburgh. Collins has worked with Penguins star Sidney Crosby and other concussed athletes.
"I saw him and a couple of other doctors and it seems like I did about 10,000 tests in an eight-hour period," Gleason said, smiling. "That would make anybody dizzy. I've had a lot of tests that I never would have thought had been invented. But everyone was doing all they could to get me back as soon as possible and at a safe time."
It hurt Gleason that the Canes faced the Detroit Red Wings in the Oct. 4 opener at PNC Arena and he was forced to be a bystander. Even worse, he couldn't skate with his teammates and was not allowed to work out off ice until recently.
"The toughest part is going through summer training, you're on top of your game and you're feeling great," Gleason said. "You work hard for four or five months and you have to hit the reset button and have to start from scratch again."
Gleason finally was back in the ice with the Canes Thursday for the morning skate at Air Canada Centre. He again put in some extra skating with assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour after the team practice.
Getting Gleason back in the lineup will be the call of Canes coach Kirk Muller. Gleason said the Minnesota Wild road game next week might be the "safest bet” for his return, saying he needed some more full practices.
"I'm just missing a little bit of timing and obviously that will take a game or so," Gleason said with another smile. "Other than that, my wind is feeling pretty good. The mush melon is feeling pretty good. So I'm looking forward to starting."