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Kimmo Timonen weighs in on Claude Giroux’s departure, state of the Flyers

Do you cry when you’re leaving a place you hate?

Nashville Predators v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Kimmo Timonen has a podcast. Did you know that? You might not have, because you probably don’t speak Finnish. On March 24, Timonen recorded an episode of his weekly podcast, Kimanttia, with his cohost Antti Mäkinen, just as he does every Thursday. The episode centered mostly on the trade deadline which, naturally, included a long segment on Kimmo’s old team the Philadelphia Flyers.

Timonen and his cohost discussed Chuck Fletcher’s moves, what the team needs to do going forward, and what Kimmo thinks they’re doing wrong right now. Mixed in with all of this is Kimmo’s account of the night he spent with Claude Giroux after his 1000th game, which is, if nothing else, interesting.

Broad Street Hockey was able to obtain a translation from a native Finnish speaker, and we’ve posted it here with no edits or notes because... well, because no one here speaks Finnish. Here is the translation of the Flyers-related segments provided to BSH:

[...talking about Vancouver Ring of Honour]

Timonen: It’s the same here, with the Flyers, they have retired Lindros, Bobby Clarke, people like that… Mark Howe… But then there’s the Flyers Hall of Fame, which is just like [Vancouver Ring of Honour]—people who don’t get their jersey retired, they go into this Hall of Fame. It’s the same idea.

Mäkinen: Are you in [the Flyers Hall of Fame] already?

Timonen: I’m not—I’m not there yet.

Mäkinen: Are you good enough?

Timonen: I don’t know.

[they’re laughing]

Timonen: Gotta move out of here.

Mäkinen: Yeah. [laughing] I think it’s enough so... We’ll wait. I saw your tweet, the one where you were giving advice to the Flyers organisation, and I read the comments… They were already giving you the GM title!

Timonen: Yeah, of course I’m following everything now before the deadline… There’s all kinds of stuff going around social media and I was preparing for this podcast episode, and I was thinking—For once, I will give my opinion on how things should go in the Flyers organisation. They have 19 games left, and if someone didn’t see the tweet, I just said it’s time to let the young guys play. What I mean by that, is that—There’s Cam York, for example, this young defenseman, and a couple games ago, Keith Yandle was playing on the power play before him. What sense does it make—?

Mäkinen: Absolutely no sense!

Timonen: —now that we’re no longer in the playoff contention—Right, no sense! So let these young players play the 19 games remaining, and I’m not only talking about Cam York—they have others, forwards, they should put them in different roles. Like, put Cam York on the penalty kill, or match him against elite players so you’ll get some idea of what Cam York can do, and at the same time the players can see where they are at on the NHL level, what they need to develop. The Flyers should use these 19 games as evaluation to see where they are as an organisation, what kind of players they have picked and how those players are doing on the NHL level. Because it’s a fact that there’s work to do, and there’s a lot of it.

Mäkinen: Yeah, I was just looking at your organisation. Next summer, you have a first round pick but no second round pick. In 2023, you have a first round pick but no second round pick. These years are really acute when it comes to building, so, per se, your situation is pretty bad if I’m comparing… I just calculated that a normal team has 21 picks in three years—if you have all picks from the first to seventh round, you have 21 picks in the next three years. So, for example, the Seattle Kraken has 34 picks in the future. They have a much better situation than you. Unfortunately.

Timonen: They do! That’s how it is! And that’s what I mean, that we have tough years ahead. Of course, money has never been the issue, we can get anyone as long as there’s cap space, that’s not the problem, but we should—They don’t want to use the word “rebuilding” here at all, but in my opinion, we’re at a place where [rebuilding] is a fact. That we have to do it. But now that you mentioned Seattle, I would count them as a trade deadline winner. I think Ron Francis made a lot of good moves. They tried to go into the season with this veteran team—half of the roster veterans, half younger guys—and they tried to play good hockey in this league, it didn’t work out for them and now they traded all their veterans, and just like you said, got 34 picks in the next three drafts, and that’s how you build a future.

Mäkinen: Yeah, that’s how you build it. They have a clear direction they’re going. You don’t really have one, and that’s exactly why I’m worried about the Flyers. If your baseline is, like… Hey guys, let’s fight a little more than we did last season… That’s a bad baseline.

Timonen: Yeah, no, you don’t get very far with that. [laughing]

Mäkinen: And now in the Claude Giroux deal, you retained 50%, well, that’s done after this season so you’re freeing 8 million in cap hit. Am I too wild if I say you should buy James van Riemsdyk out?

Timonen: Well, I agree. They probably wanted to trade him but the cap hit is just too much, there’s not any takers.

Mäkinen: Kevin Hayes is getting—I can’t really criticise him knowing what happened to his brother last fall and all the challenges that have followed… But I am still dreading his contract that is 7 millions dollars per year, and he’s 3C at best.

Timonen: Yeah, Kevin Hayes has had, well, like you said, his brother passed away, and—has he had two or three abdomen surgeries within a year? As a retired player, I know that once you start opening those places in the groin and abdomen… They can fix it but will you ever return to the level where you were…? Only time will tell. And what I’m also kind of worried about with the Flyers’ situation is that everyone who should be carrying the team from now on, they’re out. Ryan Ellis, Couturier, well, Hayes just got back… Those kinds of players… So I’m a little worried—Going forward, we need to make better picks, get better young players, sure, but all these key players have been more or less out all season.

Mäkinen: And you need to rebuild your defense, in a way, because you have Provorov and you have Ristolainen, and Travis Sanheim has a year in his contract left… But what’s the status of Ryan Ellis…? It’s a mystery—we talked about it before, that he’s been able to play a few games, he’s a big price, but he’s not really… No one can say.

Timonen: What they’re saying around here is that he’s out for the season. They believe he’ll be healthy next season. I said, well, it’s good that you believe. They need to get him back.

Mäkinen: I will mention Florida Panthers here already, but if you want to succeed, you need to have more than six NHL defenders on the roster. Now that I’m looking at the Panthers, they have nine or ten—If I’m counting Petteri Lindbohm, as I should, they have ten NHL level defenders on the roster. You have to have that kind of a group of guys if you really want to succeed. And you are in the situation where you have Provorov, Ristolainen and Sanheim, and then a whole lot of nothing.

Timonen: That’s true. Like I said, there’s work to do, and there’s a lot of it.

[...]

Mäkinen: Let’s talk about the East.

Timonen: Well, this Florida team is—Bill Zito did an excellent job strengthening his team. Of course, local, Claude Giroux, a big goal achieved with his 1,000th game, and we went to grab beers after [the 1,000th game]. It was tough on Claude, he was still crying heavily while we were drinking, he was sorry to leave… And he probably never wanted to leave [Philly] but that’s just how it goes. It’s business, the other side of hockey, and when the team isn’t in the playoffs and there’s no hope, they start trading the big names, trying to get picks. And Claude Giroux got to experience that and it was tough on him.

Mäkinen: Did his family go with him?

Timonen: I don’t know for sure. But Florida was the place where he wanted to go.

Mäkinen: He’s 34 years old. No matter what happens this spring, I think it’s very likely that he’ll re-sign with the Panthers, let’s say two years and six million. Three million per season. And he’ll remain in Florida because this team has the window open, they will have it open the next season and even the one after that, and he wants to be in on that.

Timonen: I see this as one possibility, but the other is—He’s from Ottawa, his wife is too, and they go to Ottawa every summer for a few months, so I’m not ruling out the possibility, that if Florida doesn’t work out, he’ll sign a two, three year deal with Ottawa and kind of settle there for the rest of his career. That’s probably the other possibility.

Mäkinen: Do these things matter? You know these guys better than me, you tell me.

Timonen: I think so, yeah, especially with knowing the family… It matters.

Mäkinen: Because this has to do with the Auston Matthews idea they try to sell in Toronto every once in a while. That because he’s from Arizona, became an NHL fan because of the Coyotes… [yada yada about Matthews and Coyotes] Do you think Arizona matters so much that Auston Matthews would leave Toronto as a 27-year-old to build a franchise?

Timonen: I don’t see that. Or Arizona needs to be really up-trending for Matthews to go there at that age. I just don’t see it, but with Claude, he’s 34, has two kids, wife is from Ottawa, he likes it there… I see it being an option for Claude after this season, no matter what happens with Florida, that he’ll retire at home, in Ottawa, where all his friends and family are. I think, at that age, family is the priority. But Auston Matthews… Him being 27 [at that point] and Arizona being where they are right now, I just don’t see it happening, no matter where his home is.

Mäkinen: Yeah, okay, that’s interesting. But when it comes to Giroux, I can see it happening.

Timonen: Yeah, and about Florida in general, their defensemen… Robert Hägg—I know the guy a little, and he’s a good back-up for this team. If someone gets hurt, he can give you that 10-15 minutes every night, he’ll do whatever for the team, good dude, good guy in the locker room. Pretty quiet, but does anything if needed. Ben Chiarot, a good addition to the team. Plays hard and can move the puck, play penalty kill… He can be matched up against the opponent’s top guys… I really liked the moves Florida and Bill Zito did.

Mäkinen: I fully agree. This roster is obscene.

Timonen: It’s pretty tough.

Mäkinen: Absolutely obscene. [he explains the giggly Giroux comment when he was asked about Barkov] And now in training, he was put in line with Barkov and Verhaeghe at practice, so soon it’ll be pretty sweet to see Panthers on the ice and Giroux working his magic with the puck. And now that Aaron Ekblad is out, Giroux will get his spot at right in PP1. So he has that going on for him too, and it’s really interesting to see how this plays out.

Timonen: And from Giroux’s point of view—and I know, he told me—one day, you play your 1,000th game in the same organisation—it’s tough to do, there aren’t that many guys who have played 1,000 games in one organisation. People who have played 1,000 games, it’s usually spread across multiple organisations. But he said it was amazing, the 1,000th game ceremony, but as soon as the game is over, you know you’ll get traded. The whirlwind of emotions was, he said, pretty huge right then.

[then they move on to talk about how interesting the spring will be for the Finnish fans bc Florida has Finnish players etc.]

So there you have it, Kimmo Timonen’s thoughts on the Flyers. And Claude Giroux, on the night of the biggest honor of his career, crying over a beer in a bar with his buddy.

Conclusion? Kimmo for President/GM/Coach.


Big thanks to BSH’s Megan O. for facilitating this translation, and even bigger thanks to far-flung Flyers fan J. for translating.