The 2014/15 season was one most of us wish we could forget. The Flyers underwhelmed, finishing sixth in the Metropolitan division and missed the playoffs by 14 points. Even a nine game point streak to close out January and open up February wasn’t enough for the Flyers to get into Lord Stanley’s chase. Amongst all the dross that encapsulated the 2014/15 season, there was one lone bright spot.
As the trade deadline loomed a little less than a month away, then-General Manager Ron Hextall made a move. This was one of the first moves Hextall made that set the tone for his tenure as Flyers General Manager, and it was bittersweet to say the least.
- PHI Trades – (D) Kimmo Timonen
- CHI Trades – 2015 2nd Rd. Pick, 2016 Cond. 4th Rd. Pick
Timonen had spent seven years with the Flyers organization, and had just been diagnosed with blood clots. If not the 2015 season, Kimmo might never have had a real shot at a Stanley Cup.
Why it Made Sense
The Flyers were in unload mode. With a veteran-laden roster full of costly contracts, Hextall had his work cut out for him. While Timonen was only making two million dollars, it made sense to move the aging blue-liner and get younger. In this case, the two picks would provide the Flyers with that youth. Wade Allison, who has yet to sign his ELC after his senior year at Western Michigan, was the conditional fourth rounder, that turned into a third rounder in 2016. The 2015 second round pick was flipped for the draft pick that turned into Travis Konecny. That move paid off in spades.
At that point in the year, the Flyers were sitting in fifth in the Metropolitan division with 63 points. Their powerplay was ranked second in the league, a unit where Timonen dominated in time-on-ice. He was a luxury to have on the blue-line, and they got a solid return in dealing him.
For the Blackhawks, it made total sense. At the time of the trade, they were sitting in third place in the Central Division, and looking to make one final push into the playoffs. Their roster was solid from top to bottom, but adding a veteran blue-liner to spell some of their defensemen down the stretch was a smart move. With a powerplay ranked 17th, Timonen offered a big boost on the man advantage as well. The deal worked out well for both sides.
After the trade, the Flyers only accumulated 21 more points, missing the playoffs by 14 points. The season was underwhelming, having traded away fan-favorite Timonen, and Brayden Coburn as well. The returns were enough to have the fans excited for the coming drafts, but did nothing to quench their immediate thirst for success.
The Blackhawks went on a dominating run, holding steady at third in the Central Division. They made the playoffs, ran through all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning to hoist the Cup. Timonen played in 18 of the Blackhawk’s playoff games, three of them in the Stanley Cup Finals, and remained point-less on the scoresheet. Regardless, he met the minimum to have his name etched on Lord Stanley, something that had eluded him his entire career.
Kimmo Timonen’s best chance at a Stanley Cup came in 2010, when the Flyers faced the Blackhawks for the most coveted prize in sports. The Flyers ended up dropping the series in 6, but went on one of the franchise’s most impressive runs to-date. Timonen was 34 years old during that run. Fast forward five years, and at 39 years of age, Kimmo finally reached hockey’s pinnacle with the team that robbed him in his first opportunity.
Time was winding down on his illustrious career. Shortly after joining the Blackhawks, Timonen announced his intent to retire at season’s end. His last chance at eternal hockey glory was his best, and he capitalized on that.
While Ron Hextall and the Flyers knew that the likely weren’t making a run at the cup for the foreseeable future, trading Timonen exemplified the class that runs through the Flyers organization. For all that Timonen had given them (519 games, 38 goals, 232 assists, and 270 points,) it was Hextall’s turn to give back to Kimmo. Trading him to a bonafide contender was Hextall’s way of showing his respect for Kimmo.
No, nobody knew the Blackhawks were absolute shoo-ins for the Stanley Cup that year, but they were one of the top teams and the deal made absolute sense from both standpoints. The deal on February 27, 2015 was one final salute from the Flyers organization. A nod to the career that Timonen had as a Flyer, it was the parting gift for a fan-favorite: dealing him to a team that had a real chance at winning it all.
Mandatory Credit – © David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Co-host of the Pod Street Bullies podcast, Managing Editor of the Flyers division at Philly Sports Network. Follow me on Twitter @PodStreetBobb and follow the Pod Street Bullies @PodSTBullies.
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