Kimmo Timonen was a wreck. On the night before what he hoped would be the very last of his illustrious career, he was a mess.
“I pretty much lied to everybody this morning that I slept good,” Timonen said. “I didn’t sleep at all.”
He won’t want to sleep tonight. Timonen came back from career- and life-threatening blood clots in his lungs and leg to make one last run at the Stanley Cup. And on Monday night at the United Center, in Game 6, he got it.
Timonen is done, retiring. And he’s going out on top.
“That’s it,” he said. “I leave this game as a Stanley Cup champion. I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
A little less than a year ago, he was in a hospital bed in Finland. It’s been a long road back, and it was a struggle from the start in Chicago, which gave up two second-round picks for Timonen at the trade deadline. He was supposed to bolster a top-heavy defense. He wound up playing just a handful of minutes a night, scratched for the last two games of the Western Conference final and the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. His role was small, but his presence was huge.
The affable Finn made a bigger impact in the dressing room than on the ice. Jonathan Toews made sure he got the Cup first — like he did with Michal Handzus in 2013 and Marian Hossa in 2010 — telling him at the morning skate that he would.
“He said, ‘Holy something’ and he skated off really fast,” Toews said. “I kind of expected him to get fired up, maybe raise his heart rate a little bit this morning. I know it definitely did for [Handzus] and for Hossa the first time. It’s awesome. It’s awesome to win but also more than anything to win for guys like that and guys like [Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins], guys that came into our lineup around the deadline. I could go on all day talking about how happy I am for these guys.”
Timonen was told he was done in August. But he sought more opinions until he found a doctor that would give him a chance.
“Doctors have their own opinion, and they were probably right,” he said. “But my desire was so deep, if there was any chance I could make a comeback, I’d like to do it. There were ups and downs, but it was worth it. It’s unreal I’m actually here. … It’s just been a long journey, and I’m happy. As a player, you go through ups and downs. I don’t think you can write this story any better than this.”