“There’s no question it’s a setback, there’s no other way to explain it. … You can’t take not only the player but I think the experience and the calm and the poise and the respect that Kimmo has in the locker room and say you didn’t take a step back.”
That was Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall, via NHL.com, speaking about the loss of veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who’s been diagnosed with blood clots and may be forced to retire.
Timonen was already pondering retirement following the 2013-14 season; however, he ultimately signed a one-year extension with the Flyers in June, with Hextall calling the offensive defenseman “still a very effective player.”
If Hextall had known then what everyone knows now, he may have been more aggressive in free agency or in the trade department to add a dependable defenseman.
Yesterday, the Flyers signed 24-year-old Michael Del Zotto, a once-promising d-man who’s coming off a tough 2013-14. At this point, he’s a wild card. He could bounce back. He could end up on waivers.
“If I had an answer for it [my downfall], I’d be able to figure it out just as easy,” said Del Zotto, per CSN Philly. “I had a great rookie season, second season didn’t go as well, and my third was my best season. I was playing to my capabilities …
“Last year I lost my confidence early on, and it’s a confidence game. If you don’t believe in yourself or your abilities to make the plays you need to as an offensive player, it’s tough to go from there.”
Timonen, on the other hand, was a known, dependable commodity. He was also a player who had excellent possession numbers relative to his teammates in 2013-14, while playing against tough competition for a Flyers team that finished the season with the 20th-ranked goals-against average (2.77).