By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Kimmo Timonen overcame a battle with blood clots on his legs and lungs with the dream of one more Stanley Cup push in this final season for the 40-year-old defenseman and four-time NHL All-Star.
When the trade deadline came and Timonen’s Philadelphia Flyers weren’t in contention, he was sent to Chicago, a Cup favorite. He hadn’t played all season but had worked to reach this point.
“The dream of winning was so bad, that I wanted to turn every stone,” Timonen said. “It was a long battle.”
Now here’s Timonen, with the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, and he’s a healthy scratch. He spent long hours on the ice and in the doctor’s office to get here. Now he’s wearing a suit while his team fights for a championship.
“It’s frustrating,” Timonen said. “I can’t lie to you. It’s hard, I’m not lying to you. It is what it is.”
Timonen played through each Blackhawks playoff game leading up to Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, when coach Joel Quenneville deemed his veteran presence couldn’t overcome inconsistent play.
When Chicago earned a Game 7 win in Anaheim to clinch the Stanley Cup Final berth, Timonen was a healthy scratch. Game 3 of the Cup Final is Monday night at the United Center, and Timonen isn’t expected to play, barring an unforeseen change from Quenneville.
Does Timonen believe his play is worthy of ice time?
“Obviously not, because I’m not playing,” Timonen said. “That’s a sign.”
The Blackhawks acquired Timonen on Feb. 27 in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2015 draft and a conditional fourth-round pick. However, because the Blackhawks won three rounds and Timonen played in more than half of those games, the conditional pick became a second-round selection for the 2016 draft.
Still, general manager Stan Bowman believed in Timonen’s abilities in a return. He had tremendous hockey credentials, and it appeared to be a risk worth taking to ensure the Blackhawks’ depth for another Cup run.
Timonen worked hard to reach good health, but now he’s just a healthy scratch.
“The only thing I can say is I’ll try to stay ready and hope for my chance,” Timonen said. “I’ve played every final there is in the hockey world and am a five-time Olympian. It’s hard not to be playing, I can’t lie to you.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.