NEW YORK - Perhaps lost in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's disappointing, season-ending defeat for the Flyers was that it may have marked the culmination of a stellar NHL career for a Philadelphia mainstay.
Kimmo Timonen has yet to reveal his plans for beyond this season, but his age and contract status suggest this one could have been his last. The four-time NHL All-Star is 39 years old - he would turn 40 during next hockey season - and is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Timonen, who left Madison Square Garden before speaking with reporters Wednesday night, is expected to address reporters at this afternoon's locker cleanout. The 5-10 defenseman from Kuopio, Finland, has spent the last seven seasons as a stalwart on the Flyers' defense, rarely missing games. If Wednesday's Game 7 loss to the Rangers was indeed the end of his run in Philadelphia, the Flyers' defense won't look the same without No. 44 manning the blue line and playing the point on the power play.
Asked Wednesday night whether he thought we had seen the last of Timonen, coach Craig Berube offered a response that was telling of the alternate captain's value to the team.
"I hope not," Berube said. "He's still a good player. I thought he played his heart out tonight. I thought he gave everything he had."
Playing this season on a 1-year contract, Timonen was plus-5 with six goals and 29 assists in 77 regular-season games. In the first-round playoff series, in which the Rangers outscored the Flyers, 19-16, he finished minus-2. He was plus-1 over 21:25 and 28 shifts with three blocked shots in Wednesday's 2-1 defeat.
Timonen is the biggest name among the Flyers' unrestricted free agents. Others include backup goaltender Ray Emery and right wings Steve Downie and Adam Hall.
"It's tough to talk about futures already and who will and who won't be back and retirement and whatnot, but there's no question he's the ultimate professional," defenseman Luke Schenn said of Timonen after Wednesday's game. "He's a warrior out there."
Counting the postseason, Timonen has played 590 of his 1,179 career NHL games with the Flyers. He spent the first eight seasons of his career in Nashville before joining the Flyers in 2007. He's made two All-Star appearances with Philadelphia, in 2008 and 2012, and represented his native Finland in the last five Winter Olympics. He owns a silver medal from the 2006 Olympic games in Turin, Italy, and three bronze medals (1998, 2010 and 2014).
Not bad for the 250th overall draft pick of the 1993 draft.
"Every game, you wouldn't believe what he does for the team, as far as little things that people probably don't notice every day," Schenn said. "I see him at the practice rink; he's got two or three ice bags on him and doesn't miss a beat out there. He competes night in and night out. He's real consistent.
"He's definitely one of the best defenseman I've ever played with and learned from."