I like a lot of the new guys on the Philadelphia Flyers and even though I praise Jakub Voracek and Matt Read, I wouldn’t say either are my favorite player. Whenever anyone asks me who my favorite Flyers player is, I do not hesitate to blurt out, “Kimmo Timonen.”
I’m a huge fan of blueliners partly because when I used to play sports, I always played a defensive role. So of course my favorite Flyers player is a defenseman.
On Monday night, Timonen reached a milestone by playing his 1,000th career game. It was his 426th game as a Flyer. While some fans may argue that Timonen’s career should be over, I think the Flyers still need him.
The first reason is that his veteran status makes him a mentor to Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn and Luke Schenn. The second reason is because I don’t see too many of the Flyers blueliners doing much for the team. I’ll admit that he has made a few miscues this season, but the Flyers definitely depend on Timonen’s defensive skills.
The thing that is interesting about his career is that it almost never happened. Timonen was drafted in the 10th round by the Los Angeles Kings, which is a draft round that no longer exists. He spent five years playing in Finland before getting a shot at the majors.
NHL scouts told him he would never make it in the league because he was too small. This must sound familiar to smaller players like teammate Danny Briere and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Martin St. Louis. Both of these younger players faced this same obstacle before making it into the NHL. Timonen’s success definitely helped pave the way for smaller guys to get their shot at the big leagues.
Timonen didn’t do much with the Kings and was later traded to the Nashville Predators, where he finally found success and met teammate Scott Hartnell. Both of them were traded to the Flyers in a package deal. Timonen found even more success at the helm of Philadelphia’s defense, and has also expressed his wishes to retire with the organization.
I also like Timonen because of his demeanor on the ice. Not every guy who puts on a Flyers jersey needs to be a fighter. Timonen isn’t much of a fighter, and I like that about him.
It’s also why I was so livid when the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Kris Letang went after him last year in the playoffs. You don’t go after a guy who is known for not fighting, you go after a guy like Zac Rinaldo.
Timonen has extended his contract for another year with the Flyers and although the Flyers need a guy like him, his career is definitely winding down. The problem is that the Flyers don’t have much of a defense, so they need to keep him on for as long as possible.
Let’s go Flyers! Deanna Vasso is a Flyers writer for rantsports.com, you can follow her on twitter @dmvasso.