One has to admire Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. He is in the final season of a six-year $38 million deal, the odometer on his hockey career is ticking away and yet during these early stages of the lockout, he continues to be a team player.
After nine players worked out on Wednesday at the Skate Zone, including eight affiliated with either the Flyers or Phantoms, Timonen talked about the lockout, which reached its fourth day.
“It’s not just for us but for the future,” Timonen said. “Seven years ago we missed a year and we pretty much lost that time.”
Timonen said that this time the players appeared more engaged in the issues.
“I feel we are more educated this time and know what is going on,” he said. “Hopefully they can get together and get the deal done.”
Timonen wouldn’t say he would go play in Europe as he did the previous lockout if this one is extended. Yet he didn’t rule it out either.
At 37, he said he understands that his hockey playing days won’t go on forever.
He even suggested that this could be his last season playing hockey if there is a long lockout or no season at all. Timonen then expanded on the issue.
“I feel like I am in great shape, but to be honest if this thing drags on another two or three months who knows, I might lose my motivation and we will see what happens after,” he said.
The lockout affects different players in different ways, but the older ones are hurt the most.
Still, it’s early and for now everybody is sticking together, but one can sense the frustration.
Defenseman Nick Grossmann was asked if the lockout was long if he considered playing this year in his native Sweden.
“If it gets to that you want to play hockey,” Grossmann said. “It gets old practicing, whatever time it will be. If it takes a long time, I may have to go home.”
Forward Matt Read was one player trying to put a positive spin on things.
“You know what is going on, and what is going on in the media may not be happening behind the scenes,” Read said.
Read spoke after Wednesday morning’s workout. In the afternoon the NHL announced the cancellation of the 2012 preseason schedule through Sept. 30, along with the Oct. 3 preseason game in Belleville, Ontario.
And not all the Flyers are being patient. Published reports say that the long-rumored signing of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to play in Russia’s KHL has taken place.
More undoubtedly will follow if this lockout drags on.
Regardless of what the players say about sticking together, and they may be as unified as ever, the frustration level is already high. That’s because even now, the players are trying to keep themselves motivated for a season that they wonder will ever take place.