CHICAGO — It was all new to Kimmo Timonen and he didn’t know what to do.
The 40-year old defenseman received the Stanley Cup from Jonathan Toews, who tipped him off this would happen at the morning skate, as the Chicago Blackhawks began their celebrations. When Timonen was ready to pass it off, his teammates told him to go give it a skate, and he did, planting one more kiss on the trophy before handing it to Antoine Vermette.
Monday was Timonen’s final day in the NHL. After working his way back after being diagnosed with blood clots last August, the Finnish blueliner will now hang up his skates as a champion, something he hasn’t been able to call himself before.
In Timonen’s decorated hockey career, he owns an Olympic silver medal; a silver from the 2004 World Cup of Hockey; three silvers from the World Championships; and lost to the Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Always a bridesmaid but never the bride. Finally, the dedication to the game paid off.
“It’s been a long journey, I can tell you that,” said Timonen after Chicago’s 2-0 win in Game 6 over the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Last August, I didn’t know if I could play anymore, but my desire was so deep inside that I wanted to get one more shot…I just had to have so many meetings [with doctors] and so many different things to get to this level and [for] this to happen.”
Timonen wouldn’t allow his mind to think of how Monday night might end for the Blackhawks. Nor would he when Duncan Keith gave Chicago a 1-0 lead late in the second period. But when Patrick Kane made it 2-0 with 5:14 left in the third period, his dream became reality.
“I was crying a little bit,” he said after Kane’s goal. “There was tears coming out of my eyes because I knew two goals against this team, it’s hard to score, so I knew we had a really good chance to win it.”
Growing up in Kuopio, Finland, Timonen dreamed of this day, but once he reached the NHL it took 17 years to come to fruition. “You always dream about this, but you never know what’s going to happen in hockey.”
The disappointing heartbreaks are in the past now, as is Timonen’s hockey career. He said he’ll probably spend his first day of retirement sleeping, which would be a well-deserved rest after the year he had.
“I’m happy. I’m relieved. I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’m leaving this game as a Stanley Cup champion, so I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
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