Timonen and Hextall met the media on Feb. 10.

By Jack Ryan

The endless melodrama surrounding 39-year-old Flyer Kimmo Timonen is over.

He has been traded.

But why didn’t the Flyers decide to keep the 15-year-vet who has become a huge hit with Flyers fans?

Especially since they are scrambling to make their way into the NHL playoffs, six points behind the Boston Bruins?

Timonen was dealt Friday to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2015 second-round draft pick and a 2016 conditional fourth-round pick that can become a third or second.

“I can tell you this,” Hextall said in a conference call. “Kimmo did not have a no-trade clause in his contract, but if he wouldn’t have been amicable to be traded, we would not have traded him. He’s meant too much to the organization to trade him if it was against his wishes”

Timonen departs on a night a Boston Bruins road win over the Devils has the Flyers six points out of a playoff spot heading into Saturday night’s home game against the Rangers.

Timonen, who played seven of his 15 NHL seasons for the Flyers, talked after Thursday’s morning skate in Toronto on Thursday about wanting to suit up on Saturday for his season debut. But iit appears now that he knew all along a trade with Chicago could be completed beforehand.

“I know the Flyers got really close to the playoffs now, and they still have a really good chance to make it, but I just couldn’t get my mind from Chicago and the Blackhawks,” Timonen said in a separate conference call.

Timonen was asked frequently during interviews about possibly moving on, but always responded by saying he was only focused on his training.

“I’ll tell you how it all started,” Hextall said. “Kimmo and I … we had a lot of talks obviously just before he started skating there for about two weeks. So every day he’d come in for an update or we talked. We talked about where he was at, how he felt. We talked about the doctor’s appointments and whatever else was going on.

“Part of those talks got to the point where, ‘OK, if we’re out of the playoffs …’ I asked Kimmo, ‘If we’re out of the playoffs, do you want to look to be going somewhere and take a run at winning a Stanley Cup?’ So at that point is when we both started thinking about the idea. I’m guessing here, but I want to say we were 10 points out of a playoff spot and it wasn’t looking good. So over the course of time we got comfortable with it.

“We’re sitting here now close to a playoff spot,” Hextall said. “Kimmo and I kind of went back and forth on, ‘Do you want to go, do you not want to go?’ … It was a tough one. And in the end, I guess when we talked, we both came to the agreement that this was going to work for both sides. I think it gives him a chance to win the ultimate prize. That’s not to say we don’t have a chance here. If you get in the playoffs, you have a chance. But I think the security of Chicago being in the playoffs versus us being out of the playoffs at this point is probably the thing that I’m guessing pushed Kimmo over the edge.

“There’s a few working in your favor,” Hextall said, referring to Chicago. “First of all, his ($2 million) cap number is friendly, so you’ve got a team adding certainly a top-four defenseman, maybe a top two defenseman, at a cap number that is reasonable. So there’s value there.

“And I think (Chicago) is not only getting a player, but you’re getting a damn good person here, too. He’s a guy who’s going to work hard every day. He’s gonna have a good influence on Chicago. Players like this don’t fall off trees. I understand he hasn’t played, but on the flip side of him not playing, he’s a rested hockey player and he’s probably in the best shape of his life.”

Why not keep Timonen, who could potentially be a difference maker for the Flyers?

“Well, there’s two sides to it,” Hextall said. “There’s the future. There’s now. The defensemen we have have been playing well. When you can get this type of a return and put Kimmo in a spot where he’s on one of the top probably couple teams in the league, this worked for both sides.”


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