Timonen, of Flyers and Finland, stunned by Olympic loss

Posted: February 27, 2010

VANCOUVER - Kimmo Timonen still wasn't sure what hit him and his Team Finland mates. It was 1-0, then 2-0, then somehow, incredibly, the U.S. had a 6-0 first-period lead.

"The game was over, there," the Flyers defenseman said. "If I had an explanation, I'd give it to you."

Timonen will get to play for a bronze medal tonight, but he wasn't trying to hide his disappointment. He has a silver medal from the Turin Games and a bronze from Nagano. He was hoping at least for a chance to play for the complete set in his third and, likely, final Olympics.

"You don't get to play these games too often," Timonen said. "I've got to realize I'm 35 years old [next month]. It's four years down the road. Nobody knows, but it's probably a 90 percent chance I won't be there next time. That was probably my last semifinal in a Finnish team jersey."

Even though it may be the end of his run with the national team, Timonen said it would be a mistake for the NHL to sit out future Olympics, a possibility that has been raised by commissioner Gary Bettman.

"You'll miss out on a lot of great hockey," Timonen said. "You watch the games throughout the tournament, I think it's really good hockey. So why wouldn't you want NHL players to go to the next Olympics?"

It is important for Bettman to understand the importance of international competition for many of the NHL's players.

"I wasn't really a high draft pick," Timonen said. "You go through the national team, juniors, the World Championships, the Olympics before you get to the NHL. For me, it's not a payback, but they've given me so much. Without Team Finland, I probably wouldn't be in the NHL. Every time you play for your country, obviously, it's a great honor."

That doesn't mean it's easy, especially after reaching the final weekend, to put an intense tournament behind you and pick up with the NHL regular season.

"It's tough mentally to start playing for your team," Timonen said. "[The Flyers] have a lot of big games coming up. You have to do it. There isn't any other option."

It will feel a bit better if there's at least a bronze medal to show for the last two weeks.

"If you win a medal in the Olympics, it's pretty good," Timonen said. "It's going to be tough today to regroup, but I'm sure you're going to see a different Team Finland [in the bronze medal game]."

Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or psheridan@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/philsheridan.

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