Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kimmo Timonen: 4 Autographed Cards

I think Kimmo Timonen will come back for one more season, to retire at the round-number age of 40. And for one more shot at the Stanley Cup. He was a runner-up in 2010 when his Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, and he has a very impressive collection of precious metals collected with Team Finland (Suomi), consisting of silverware (2006 Olympics, 1998, 1999 and 2001 World Championships, 2004 World Cup) and bronze (1998, 2010 and 2014 Olympics). What he needs deserves is a (shot at a) first-place finish.

He's also been one of the most consistent defensemen in the past decade - 40 points year in and year out (sometimes in the 50s), first unit time on both the powerplay and penalty-kill. Granted, he has played less minutes 5-on-5 the last couple of seasons, and he has lost a step, but he rarely makes mistakes in his own end, and is still a fine offensive defenseman with an accurate pass and a precise and hard shot.

Though he was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings (250th overall, 1993), they traded his rights to the then-player-less Nashville Predators so they, in turn, wouldn't draft Garry Galley. It took him a few years to cross the pond, but from his second full NHL season on, he was the Preds' defense; on their chronically low-scoring team, he surpassed the 10-goal mark five times, plus scored another 8 in 51 games in his sophomore season.

To represent him during that era, I have these two cards of him in their then-home (white) uniform:
On the left is card #197 from Topps' 2000-01 Stadium Club set, which I bought packs of at a dollar store that year just so I wouldn't completely lose touch with hockey; on the right is card #111 from Upper Deck's 2006-07 Series 1 collection, the first card showing him as alternate captain.

He would serve as the Preds' designated captain for the actual 2006-07 season.

After that season, though, the Preds weren't sure they would be able to re-sign the pending free agent, so they traded his rights to the Flyers, who promptly inked him to a six-year deal. He never reached the 10-goal plateau with the Flyers, but he still got his 40-plus points - except in the locked out 2012-13 season when he registered 5 goals and 29 points in 45 games. And he wore the 'A' with them right away, as evidenced by these cards:
On the left, wearing Philadelphia's then-home (white) uniform, is card #210 in Upper Deck's 2008-09 Power Play set, while the card on the right is from Panini's 2011-12 Score (card #348), with the current home (orange) uniform, a throwback to the Broad Street Bullies' 1970s garbs.

He was a five-time choice for the All-Star game, three times with the Predators and twice with the Flyers.

Internationally, he has represented Finland a whopping 18 times - 13 on the senior team, where his stats are impressive: 14 goals, 36 assists and 50 points in 93 games, good for eight medals, as previously stated.

His current career NHL totals are also pretty impressive, and all are milestone-surpassed: 117 goals and 454 assists - good for 571 points - in 1092 regular-season games, plus 4-31-35 (and 99 penalty minutes) in 87 playoff games.

He holds the same point-producing pace in the Finnish elite league despite having started there at age 17 - much younger than usual.

I had sent Timonen these four cards and a fan letter - at the Flyers' Skate Zone -  on March 17th, 2014; they came back 78 days later, on June 3rd (2014), signed in (fading) black sharpie.

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