Timonen agrees to contract extension with Flyers

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER For Danny Briere, the puck is just out of reach on the side of the Florida net with Panthers goalie Jose Theodore and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov standing guard.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER For Danny Briere, the puck is just out of reach on the side of the Florida net with Panthers goalie Jose Theodore and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov standing guard.
Posted: February 08, 2013

BARRED FROM speaking to his players during the lockout, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren had a twinge of nerves every time he read an update about Kimmo Timonen in the newspaper.

Not only was Timonen struggling for motivation to stay in shape during the 113-day ordeal, but he was also becoming accustomed to being an everyday dad.

"I was reading his quotes throughout the lockout," Holmgren said. "When he was liking this, being able to watch his kids play, I was a little nervous about that."

For Holmgren and the Flyers, the question of whether Timonen would return next year for a seventh season didn't rest in their hands. It was up to Timonen.

So, when Timonen and Holmgren met Monday for a long conversation, Holmgren jumped at the opportunity to re-sign his blue line's steadying influence. The two sides officially agreed to a 1-year, $6 million extension that will keep him a Flyer through the 2013-14 season.

"Kimmo is still a very good player for us, a key guy to get signed," Holmgren said. "We have a lot of young kids here that are watching the older players and how they respond to winning, losing, whether the coach yells at the team, what the media says. He's a good role model."

The $6 million price seems expensive, given the fact that the salary cap is dropping from $70.2 million to $64.3 million next season. He earns only a prorated $3 million this season, the final year of a 6-year, $38 million deal. Some believe Timonen received fair market value - what he would have on the open market this summer. And with an already-thin defense corps, the Flyers couldn't take any chances on not having him back.

With Timonen, the Flyers have $62 million committed to 19 players already - including Chris Pronger, whom they can bury on the long-term injury list to receive cap relief. He also will retain a no-movement clause in the new deal, meaning Timonen would need to sign off on any trade or assignment to the minors.

Timonen turns 38 next month. He barely finished last season on one leg, before opting for offseason back surgery. He has dealt with an injury nearly every season, from a blood clot in his leg to wonky knees and everything in between. But Holmgren didn't have any reservations about Timonen's health.

"You run that risk with young guys, too," Holmgren said. "He's a strong little guy. He has been through a lot, but he also plays through a lot. That's part of being a good pro, you just tie your skates up and get out there and play even though you might be dealing with something nagging.

"Kimmo does a good maintenance program on the injuries that he has had; I don't anticipate any issues there. He's a good soldier and a good Flyer."

Timonen has molded young players, from Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle to Luke Schenn, into bonafide NHL defensemen.

"I think when you play with Kimmo, he really settles the game down," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He makes a good pass, he thinks the game through. When you get to play with a guy like Kimmo, guys that make the right plays, it's almost like you're a step ahead of the game."

Simmonds update

Wayne Simmonds missed his third straight game Thursday with a concussion. Though the Flyers did not hold a pregame skate, Simmonds skated with the scratches and coaching staff Thursday morning and did not feel any ill-effects. He remains a possibility to play Saturday against Carolina and already has been cleared for contact.

"It's just a question of when he feels he's ready to go," Holmgren said. "He still doesn't feel quite right, is the way he said it to me today."

Hartnell, Mez progress

Scott Hartnell had the large cast removed from his surgically repaired left foot this week and could return to skating as early as next week. Hartnell, the Flyers' leading goal-scorer from last year, fractured his big toe on Jan. 22.

Even better news, defenseman Andrej Meszaros could return to skating sooner than that. Meszaros has been out since Jan. 24 with a shoulder joint injury. Both players were given a 4-week timetable for their returns.

"They're both on track for that 4-week period," Holmgren said. "We're still a couple weeks away from them."

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