Months ago, it was assumed that Philadelphia Flyers star defenseman Kimmo Timonen would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season. In February, Timonen told reporters that he was “…99 percent sure” that the 2013-2014 season would be his last. In June, he reiterated his statement.
But it seems as if Timonen may have had a change of heart. Flyers fans, rejoice, because that one percent chance may come to fruition.
On Tuesday, the 38-year-old Finnish defender offered a brighter outlook on his future with the Flyers. “I’m not sure if this is going to be my last year” Timonen said in an interview with CSN Philly, “If I stay healthy and play at the level I want, then I’ll go one more year. We’ll see.”
What happened to the 99 percent we saw in February? The Flyers were floundering on their way to a 23-22-3 record, and the team as a whole needed an attitude adjustment. Timonen was also aching, playing with a fractured foot throughout the last half of the season. Fortunately, the injury did not require surgery, and Timonen is now back to full capacity.
Perhaps the off season moves made by GM Paul Holmgren encouraged Timonen to rethink his exit strategy. The Flyers picked up goaltender Ray Emery, future Hall-of-Famer Vincent Lecavalier and veteran defender Mark Streit. They took defenseman Samuel Morin with the 11th overall pick at the 2013 NHL draft, and drafted defenseman Robert Hagg in the second round.
The Flyers have a bright future, and its likely that Timonen desires to be a part of this for a few more seasons. Timonen has been an absolute machine throughout his 15-season career, tallying 536 points in 1015 games. Aside from the obvious benefit his defensive presence brings to the ice, Timonen is an established leader. The knowledge he could impart on youngsters like Hagg and Morin would be invaluable.
If Timonen indeed delays his retirement, his contract will need to be renegotiated, a deal that Holmgren will be sure to complete. Timonen is a priceless asset to the Flyers. With any luck, he won’t hang up the skates for a few years and when he does, he’ll be donning an orange sweater.