Former Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen made his first and last appearance at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night since being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, but it was a memorable one.
The Flyers showed a video montage of Timonen during a TV timeout in the first period and the fans gave him a standing ovation, which he recognized on the ice by waving his arm in the air.
Fans also roared when he was introduced during the starting lineups, cheered whenever he carried the puck, serenaded him with chants of “Kimmo, Kimmo” throughout the game and gave him one last sendoff when Timonen was recognized as the third star of the game.
“I was thinking about it,” said Timonen, who spent eight seasons with the Flyers. “I’ve gone through a lot of games and things throughout my career. I’ve won a lot of medals and (played in) all-star games but that’s one of the coolest things you can as a player experience. So I just want to say thanks to the fans. That was awesome.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was impressed by the reaction of the fans that he knows can be pretty tough on visiting – and their own – players.
“It’s awesome, it’s really great, especially in this city,” he said. “I think Kimmo has a history of being a class act. He’s a good guy on and off the ice. It definitely showed why he got that ovation. It’s pretty cool for him. We’re happy to have him in our locker room.”
Timonen, who is hoping to win his first Stanley Cup before retiring after the season, is also just thankful to be on the ice. His season and career was nearly over last summer when he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and legs.
However, doctors cleared him to return in February but he was dealt to Chicago just before the trade deadline and before Timonen even played a single game for the Flyers – making Wednesday such a memorable night for him.
“It’s special because you know he is such a well-respected player, well-respected person amongst this organization and with the press,” Flyers goalie Steve Mason said. “All of the cheers and applause that he got was very much well deserved and it was kind of nice to see him get it throughout the game as well. It was a classy jester by the fans here.”
Following the video presentation, Timonen said it was an emotional moment and difficult to regain his composure. He was glad Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t put his defensive pairing on the ice for the next face-off.
“It was really hard,” said Timonen, who has won the Barry Ashbee Award as the team’s best defenseman five times. “The whole game was kind of mixed emotions, a kind of roller coaster ride. I was still trying to focus on the game but it was really hard because eventually this is the last game here.
“That was the last time I could actually play in front of (this group of) great fans. It was great.”