By Sam Bush
Kimmo Timonen is coming back to the Flyers.
The only more surprising element of that fact is how it was announced — Thursday night during the Flyers game with the New York Islanders at the Wells.
Many thought Timonen was done playing when he was hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs and right calf last August, but the four-time All-Star defenseman and the Flyers clearly had become very optimistic about a return in recent weeks.
Timonen and GM Ron Hextall (photo above) answered questions Thursday night.
Here’s the Q&A:
Q: What was it you needed to find out before this decision was made
Hextall: “Which one of the those? It was just a process. There were a lot of people involved … doctors involved, Kimmo. Him making sure on his side. Us making sure on our side. There was just a lot of communication, and obviously doctors involved and specialists involved and everything else. So it’s been a long process, but in the end Kimmo feels comfortable and we feel that the risk is minimal. Obviously, every time that you step on the ice there’s risk, but we all feel it’s minimal. So the plan as of now is he skates (Friday) morning by himself and then we’ll go from there.”
Q: Who felt comfortable first, Kimmo or the Flyers?
Timonen: “Let me say … first of all, it’s been a long process and I’m sure Hexy every time he sees my face he goes, ‘Oh, that guy again.’ In September I said, ‘There’s a little chance to get back on the ice. Hopefully in February. We’ll see.’ I kept that hope alive. I worked out really hard and meeting all the doctors and all the specialists, I feel really confident about skating and coming back.”
Q: Do you still have blood clots in your calf? If so, can you play with them?
Timonen: “It would take some time to tell what’s going on and there are some private things I don’t really want to tell. It’s not really your business, so …”
Q: But just that basic question … do you still have blood clots in your calf?
Timonen: “It’s call chronic, so the chronic means they won’t move ever. So they stay in there forever.”
Q: Do you have to be on blood thinners?
Timonen: “Well, we have a plan. Again, that’s a private matter to me and my doctor I think. But I think the biggest thing you guys need to know is that bleeding factor … I see a couple articles that said, ‘What happens if Kimmo gets cut on the ice?’ There’s no bleeding factor because on the game days, I can’t be on blood thinners, obviously. So I’m as much a risk as any player out there. So you guys need to do that and everything else I want to keep between me and my doctor.”
Q: Can you play every game if you’re on the blood thinners? Will there be times you can’t play back-to-backs?
Timonen: “There shouldn’t be. If I get back, I get back.”
Q: How soon before you think you can play?
Timonen: “Well, I haven’t skated in eight months, so we’ll see when I step on the ice (Friday) and skate. Hopefully, 7-to-10 days by myself and hopefully (then) with the team, then we’ll go from there. But let me get on the ice first and see how I feel. … It’s going to get me a good two weeks to get my legs going. I’m in good shape I feel, but we all know skating is a little different. I’ll just go day-by-day I’ll talk to Hexy and the training staff and medical staff and go from there. But I can’t give you any estimation on when the first game might be.”
Q: Is two weeks a reasonable guess?
Timonen: “I can’t tell you. I’m been off the ice for eight months. I’m sure I’m going to get a little sore the first two days when I skate. But I’m sure 7-to-10 days are going to be big for me, but at the same time I’m going to get that feeling back and get ready. Hopefully in 10 days or two weeks I’m able to practice with the team.”