Veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen returned to the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday morning, chatted with some of his ex-Flyers teammates, and then headed to the Chicago Blackhawks' dressing room.
"It's only been three weeks," said Timonen, who actually was traded to the Blackhawks about four weeks ago for a couple of draft picks that could both become second-rounders, "but it feels like it's been longer."
Timonen, 40, whose Blackhawks face the Flyers Wednesday night, still resides in Haddonfield,
"It was great to see family and my kids," he said. "It's obviously weird to be in this room, bit I'm really looking forward to tonight."
The Flyers are expected to have a video tribute on the scoreboard.
Timonen, who spent eight seasons with the Flyers, missed most of the season with blood clots; he has played nine games with the Blackhawks and has struggled to shake off the rust.
"First game, I kind of pulled my groin a little bit, and the next few games I was surviving, but slowly, day by day, I'm starting to feel I'm getting better," said Timonen, a five-time winner of the Barry Ashbee Award, given to the Flyers' top defenseman.
Timonen said when he gets on the ice, "I actually feel like I can do something. It's been a process and I still have a long ways to go."
When he is in a puck battle with an ex-teammate, he kidded, "I'll probably have to remind them I'm still 40 years old and old, so hopefully they don't hit me too hard. But they have to do their job and I have to do mine. I talked to a lot of guys at the morning skate, so I don't have to talk to them tonight."
In nine games, Timonen has no points and is minus-2. He is averaging 12:27 of time per game, and 41 seconds per game on the power play. Chicago is 7-1-1 with him in the lineup.
Timonen was asked if he was still adjusting to the speed of the game.
"The game is fast. It's a young man's game. I missed 10 months and that's the bigger factor," he said. "Not to be able to skate for 10 months and now you jump in there right away. You're trying to find your role, and obviously it's a really good team and my role is (smaller) than I'm used to. It's still taking some adjustments, but I'm happy to be here.
"If you look at two or three months back, I wasn't even supposed to play, so every second I get on the ice, I'm happy with it."
Timonen is considered one of the top contenders for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who shows the most perseverance.
Breakaways. If the Flyers make a coaching change after the season, Chicago assistant Kevin Dineen could be among the candidates…. Steve Mason will face Corey Crawford, who was hit on the mask by a shot during the morning skate but returned to the ice quickly. Mason is 14-17-10 with a 2.28 GAA and .925 save percentage, while Crawford is 30-15-8 with a 2.19 GAA and .926 save percentage….Jake Voracek is tied for second in the NHL with 73 points. Voracek and Nick Grossmann lead the Flyers at plus-6…..Jonathan Toews leads Chicago at plus-27.