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Bruce Bennett

With the Carolina Hurricanes in town for a rematch of their win last week over the Toronto Maple Leafs, all of the media focus is on 'Canes defenceman Tim Gleason after his one punch of Leafs winger Nikolai Kulemin in that game.

All involved said the fireworks of that night wouldn't carry over - and Gleason himself was somewhat apologetic today over the incident, which looked worse than it ended up being, with Kulemin suffering a black eye but little other damage.

"We'll see what happens," Gleason said of all the talk before the game. "I kind of felt bad after the fact. Then I watched the clip 55 times.

"The majority of the players in the league during games would say 'that was the right thing to do, I would do the same thing,' so. It was one of those things. You feel bad, but at the same time, I ask the question, what would you do if you got hit in the face?"

Gleason said he called Kulemin after that game, but the Leafs winger didn't want to discuss what was said - or anything else on the subject today.

"I really wasn't apologizing," Gleason said. "I called to see if he was okay because I didn't know what happened. I saw him go off in the clip after, he kind of ran into the boards, so whenever you see that, you feel bad for a guy. I sure did want to see how he's doing. I'm not a guy that could care less. I care and if that happened to me, I would think some guy would give me a call.

"You never wish injury on anybody, but at the same time, I had to protect myself and I think I did it in the right way."

Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who has coached both players (Gleason with Team USA), tried to play down any talk of retribution in a game between two teams trying to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

"We're not looking for retribution in any sense like that," Wilson said. "He called and left a voicemail with Kulie, which I think is classy. Retribution for us is to beat them, get the two points. That's what's most important here."

Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice offered similar comments on Gleason's character.

"Timmy's as clean and honest a hockey player as there is," Maurice said. "He doesn't run around looking for it. If you slap him in the face a few times, you might get something back. But we'll see. If it does [happen] he can handle himself.

"But he's a minute guy for us, he's played 28 [in a game]at times, he's averaging 21, so we need him on the ice."

Reimer v. Ward

It'll be a battle of two former Red Deer Rebels goaltenders tonight as well, with Leafs rookie James Reimer squaring off against 'Canes all-star Cam Ward tonight.

The pair don't know each other particularly well, as Reimer's first training camp in Red Deer was the first year Ward was in the NHL.

Both have had strong years to date, with Reimer playing his way into more starts over the rest of the season in a bid to earn a full-time NHL job next season and Ward having what is likely his best regular season.

"He's cool and calm in there, there's not a lot of rebounds," Wilson said of Reimer. "I think any coach likes goalies who stop the puck. And he's been very consistent, too. He's earned every opportunity we've given him."

The Leafs goaltending situation remains unclear for the near term, as with three netminders on the roster, one will be in the press box every night. (Jonas Gustavsson will spend his second game in a row there tonight as J-S Giguere backs up Reimer.)

"There's a lot of speculation," Reimer said. "I'm sure there's lots of rumours and stuff going around, but for myself, I try not to think about it too much. If you do, you can get excited and maybe you can get ahead of yourself sometimes. And you never want to do that."

On a related note, 'Canes centre Brandon Sutter remarked how there will actually be six former Rebels in tonight's game: himself, Reimer, Ward, Colby Armstrong, Dion Phaneuf and Kris Versteeg.

Brown goes down

Wilson said today that Leafs winger Mike Brown will miss the next couple of weeks recovering from an upper-body injury suffered against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. Brown took a big hit from defenceman Keaton Ellerby and left that game.

Leafs lineup

MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Crabb - Bozak - Kessel Versteeg - Boyce - Armstrong Rosehill - Brent - Sjostrom

Beauchemin - Phaneuf Kaberle - Schenn Gunnarsson - Komisarek


'Canes lineup (based on last game)

Cole - Staal - Samsonov Larose - Ruutu - Skinner Jokinen - Sutter - Tlusty Bodie - Carter - Dwyer

McBain - Pitkanen Corvo - Gleason Harrison - White


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