Blackhawks’ Timonen retires a champion

CHICAGO — In the final game of Kimmo Timonen’s 16-year NHL career, the 40-year-old Finnish defenseman became a champion.

Timonen raised the Stanley Cup for the first time Monday night, ending a hockey life previously defined by disappointments on hockey’s biggest stages with a spectacular triumph.

Timonen has repeatedly said he will retire this summer, but he squeezed one more magical season out of his career after coming back to hockey from health problems due to blood clots.

Traded from Philadelphia to Chicago late in the season, he never scored a point for the Blackhawks and played sparingly in the postseason [—] but his name will be etched on the Stanley Cup.

After Jonathan Toews accepted the Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman amid the celebration of Chicago’s clinching 2-0 victory over Tampa Bay, the captain swiftly handed it to Timonen, who triumphantly raised it above his head.

“I’ve been in every final there is in the hockey world, but I haven’t won anything,” Timonen said before Game 6. “I’ve always been on the losing part of this side of the story.”

Indeed, Timonen has four Olympic medals with Finland, but no golds. He reached three World Championships finals, losing every time.

He was the captain of the Nashville Predators during his first eight NHL seasons with the club, never making a lengthy playoff run. Timonen got close to a Cup in 2010 with the Philadelphia Flyers, but the Blackhawks rallied past them in the Stanley Cup Final to claim the first of their three titles in six years.

Timonen easily could have walked away from hockey last summer when he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and leg. After seven seasons with the Flyers and with his 40th birthday on the horizon, everything was in place for Timonen to transition into post-hockey life, and he didn’t put on skates for eight months.

But Timonen also kept talking to doctors about a way to safely play one more season. He felt unsettled and uncertain that he should walk away without taking one more shot at the Stanley Cup.

When Timonen felt confident he could play without risking his health, Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall managed to trade him to Chicago for two draft picks. He went scoreless in 16 regular-season games for the Blackhawks, and he has struggled at times during 15 scoreless postseason games, dropping in and out of Chicago’s lineup.

Timonen’s wife, Johanna, even attended Game 6 after staying away earlier in the postseason, too nervous and worried about her husband’s health and fortunes.

“She might take those blindfolds off,” Timonen said with a laugh.

He played just 3:39 in Game 6, taking only seven shifts.

He’s still a champion forever.

Talk to us

More in Sports

The AquaSox' Noelvi Marte hits a double against the Spokane Indians at Funko Field on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 in Everett, Washington. The Mariners promoted Marte from Low-A Modesto to High-A Everett on Monday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
M’s believe AquaSox shortstop Marte, 19, is budding superstar

Director of player development Andy McKay: “We believe in the skills (and) we believe in the person.”

Archbishop Murphy's Jojo Chiangpradit, (left) and Taylor Campbellat Archbishop Murphy, far right, celebrate  Cameron Bourne's goal and hat trick High School Tuesday night in Everett on September 14, 2021. The Wildcats won 6-1. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
GALLERY: Two hat tricks lift Archbishhop Murphy over Arlington

Jordyn Latta and Cameron Bourne each score three goals in the Wildcats’ 6-1 win over the Eagles.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox eliminated from playoff contention with loss

Everett loses 6-3 to Spokane and won’t be playing for the High-A West championship.

LSU defensive lineman Ali Gaye runs off the line in the second half an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Mississippi State won 44-34. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Community roundup: E-W alum Gaye earns preseason All-SEC nod

Plus, a pair of former local standouts earn weekly honors for their respective college teams.

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep results for Wednesday, Sept. 15

Prep sports roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 15: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lake Stevens' Kennedy Steen digs against Lake Stevens' Tuesday night at Edmonds-Woodway High School in Edmonds on September 7, 2021. The Vikings won in straight sets. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Prep volleyball poll for Wednesday, Sept. 15

Lake Stevens, Arlington and Darrington earn top-10 rankings from the state volleyball coaches.

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 6-12

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 6-12. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Empty seats are shown at T-Mobile Park during the eighth inning of a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, Friday, July 31, 2020, in Seattle. Fans were not allowed in the ballpark for the Mariners' home opener due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Mariners won 5-3. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle to host 2023 MLB All-Star Game

T-Mobile Park has been selected to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in July 2023.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) makes catch for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Grading the Seahawks’ 28-16 victory over the Colts

Seattle turns in a strong all-around performance in its season opener, especially from its new OC.

Most Read