PHILADELPHIA – For a moment or two, Kimmo Timonen wanted to play hockey again.
The retired defenseman was at the Flyers and Blackhawks’ morning skates on Wednesday, talking with his former teammates, including those with whom he won a Stanley Cup in June.
“But the reality is I’m 40 years old. I just had a glass of red wine,” Timonen said to laughs a few hours later. “I can’t really turn that down anymore.”
Timonen took one more turn on the Wells Fargo Center ice as part of his retirement night on Wednesday, when the Flyers hosted the Blackhawks. Timonen got the same reception on this night as he did last spring, when he played his first game here in a Blackhawks uniform.
A few months later Timonen was the first player to receive the Cup from Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
“It was a great moment when Jonny gave Kimmo the Cup there on home ice," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a special time for everybody, and people who admired Kimmo throughout his career got to feel that, ‘Wow, what a great finish and compliment to a tremendous career.’ It’s fitting we’re here and he gets honored here tonight. He came in at an interesting time for us and helped us along the way. His contribution was important at important times.”
Toews said the Blackhawks heard nothing but good things about Timonen before he became their teammate. They wanted to win a Cup for the veteran who had built such a great reputation throughout his lengthy career.
“We all meant it when we said it’s special moment for the guys in the room who have won the Cup previously. And to win it again and be able to win it for a guy like Kimmo adds much more meaning to it, for sure,” Toews said. “Although we didn’t spend a lot of time with him, it was meaningful time and we’ve got some great memories now.”
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
Timonen had high praise for Toews’ professionalism.
“He’s my top one or two captains I’ve ever seen,” he said. “The way he prepares for the game, how he does everything right, that’s commitment. I try to do the same way. I couldn’t achieve the level he is. We all can do it but it requires a lot of commitment.”
Timonen accomplished plenty in his career. The Flyers could very well be his employer again in the future. The Philadelphia area is his home. And his time with the Blackhawks will always be special.
“It was so easy to walk in there,” Timonen said of the Blackhawks’ room. “I’ve played a lot of hockey, seen a lot of different players but those guys are a special group. When you win three Cups in six years, it’s something special. Even in my old age I was able to see something new and it was impressive.”