As the 2012-2013 NHL lockout continued to drag on, Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timonen wondered aloud about the end of his playing career. ‘… to be honest if this thing drags on another two or three months, who knows, I might lose my motivation and we will see what happens after,’ the then 37-year-old veteran told Philly.com last fall.
Turn the clock forward a year, and the veteran defenseman with the aching back is now talking about possibly playing through the 2014-2015 season. If the Finnish star would continue to skate in the NHL through the spring of 2015, he would be one of the rare few who have competed at the highest level through their 40th birthday.
Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1993, Timonen chose to play the next several years in his native Finland. Kimmo was traded by the Kings shortly after the 1998 Olympics, and he saw his first NHL action as a member of the Nashville Predators during the 1998-99 season.
After spending eight seasons with the Preds, the last of which he was named captain, Timonen was traded to the Flyers in the summer of 2007. The five-time NHL All-Star has been the backbone of the Flyers’ defense since arriving in Philly.
Playing on both the power-play and penalty-kill unit, the 5’ 10’ 195 lb. sparkplug has logged an awful lot of ice time during his Flyers’ career. Including playoffs, Timonen has played 1095 games in the NHL, many of them with nagging injuries.
Timonen’s grit and determination are legendary, exemplified by his body-sacrificing shot-blocking. Undersized by today’s NHL standards, Timonen excels due to his advanced hockey sense, smooth skating, and unmatched anticipation of the play.
One of Finland’s all-time greats, Kimmo has played in four Olympics, and more than half a dozen World Championship tournaments for his country. Timonen’s durability and terrific two-way play are only part of the package he brings, however.
‘He’s huge,’ Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren said earlier this year. ‘We have a lot of young kids here that are watching the older players and how they respond. Winning, losing, one day the coach yells at the team, all different things, what the media says. Kimmo is a good role model in that regard.’
With most of the Flyers nucleus under 25 years of age, the veteran leader's words last week were encouraging. ’If I stay healthy and play at the level I want, then I’ll go one more year. We’ll see.’ Philly fans hope the ageless Finn can continue to beat Father Time.
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