Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who has missed the entire season because of blood clots, is going to attempt a comeback.
Timonen will skate Friday at 9 a.m. at the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees. He has not skated since April, and he isn't expected to play for about two weeks. He said several doctors cleared him to return to the ice.
"In the end, Kimmo feels comfortable and we feel comfortable that the risk is minimal," general manager Ron Hextall said Thursday during a news conference after the first period of the Flyers' home game against the New York Islanders.
Timonen, a four-time all-star and five-time Finnish Olympian who turns 40 next month, said that it has been a long process but that "I kept that hope alive. I worked really hard . . . and I feel really confident about skating and coming back."
"I think at this point of the year, it's pretty evident how much we've missed Kimmo," Hextall said. "It's not only on the ice, it's off the ice. It's the intangibles - it's the locker room, the work ethic, the professionalism, and obviously his presence on the ice."
About three weeks ago, Hextall announced that Timonen's clots had cleared from his lungs but not from his right calf.
On Thursday, Timonen said the clots in his calf are chronic. "They won't move ever; they stay in there forever, and they're not moving around," he said.
Timonen said that if he gets cut on the ice, there is no risk of his having a bleeding problem "because on game day, I can't be on blood thinners, obviously."
A veteran South Jersey doctor, however, said he didn't think Timonen should play.
Timonen said that he, his mother and two brothers have a protein C deficiency. According to the National Institutes of Health, a mild case of protein C deficiency affects 1 in 500 people
The protein C deficiency "gives him a much higher chance of clotting, especially in the lower extremities," said the doctor, who asked to remain anonymous.
The fact that Timonen has played 15 seasons "shows he's a brainy, agile defenseman who managed to pull it off with a condition that would have affected most people much earlier in their life," said the doctor, who is also a teacher at Rowan University's School of Osteopathic Medicine.
The doctor said Timonen could bang his head or hit his kidney and that it could cause internal bleeding.
Asked what he would say to doctors who think his return is too risky, Timonen said, "Well, it's their opinion. There are some doctors I've talked to, and those are the doctors I'm going to trust. I'm sure there's 1,000 different opinions, but there are some specialists I have to trust and go from there."
Timonen, who said he talked to a handful of NHL players who have returned after having blood clots, reiterated that this will be his final season.
"I'm really excited for today," he said. "Like I said, it's been a long process, and a lot of meetings with different people, and I'm just really looking forward to [Friday]."
Added Timonen: "I want to leave this game on a high note. I want to . . . leave this game with my skates on. That's probably the biggest thing."
Timonen watched his son's youth hockey games and continued to work out while he was sidelined.
"I missed the game, I missed the [competition]," Timonen said. "That's probably the biggest reason why I'm back. I just like the game, like the [competition], and I want to feel it one more time."