When the Philadelphia Flyers found out that defenseman Kimmo Timonen might not be able to play in 2014-15 because of blood clots, they lost a great defenseman. However, listening to the Flyers reflect on their failed 2014-15 campaign, it sounds like they missed his off-ice presence even more.
“Kimmo was such a big presence in the locker room leadership-wise,” Flyers leading scorer Jakub Voracek said, per CSN Philly. “Since I have been here, every time things didn’t go well, we had a meeting about it.
“He always calmed things down. He was hard on us sometimes. As a team, we need to get better and I think that is what we were missing.”
Timonen’s calming influence was noticed by forward Wayne Simmonds too. Defenseman Mark Streit noted that Timonen didn’t speak a lot, but when he did it had an impact on the team.
“Everybody listened up,” Streit said. “You can’t replace a guy like that.”
Whether it was possible to replace Timonen’s presence or not, they didn’t. Flyers coach Craig Berube admitted that they didn’t have a voice like Timonen’s this season.
“And again, it’s leadership, whether it is one voice or a number of voices,” Berube said. “We need more of it.”
Perhaps the Flyers will seek that sort of veteran presence on the free agent or trade market over the summer. Maybe captain Claude Giroux will grow into that role. Flyers goaltender Steve Mason has an interest in filling the void, although Berube doesn’t think that’s the role of a starting goaltender given how demanding it is to play between the pipe. He’d rather see those extra locker room responsibilities be assumed by a skater.
Of course, Timonen did end up returning, but Philadelphia decided to trade him to Chicago rather than keep him around for its long-shot battle for a playoff spot. He played in 16 regular season contests this season, all with the Blackhawks.