Kimmo Timonen ended his career perfectly, by raising the Stanley Cup as he skated into the sunset. It was a fitting finish for one of the classiest players in the league, but was it enough to vault him into the Hall of Fame? Let's discuss.
The case for
Timonen was the rock for many blue lines in Nashville and Philadelphia, the kind of dependable defenseman you could build your defense around. He played in 1,108 career NHL games, registering 571 points, and still demanded a hefty return at the trade deadline this year despite the fact that he hadn’t played to that point because of blood clots. That shows the kind of respect he has around the league.
He’s a legend in Finland, drawing 10,000 fans to his hometown Stanley Cup parade in Kuopio in July. Timonen was a key part of Finnish national teams that were always a tough out in Olympic tournaments, finishing with four Olympic medals. He was also a postseason regular, playing in 105 career playoff games and putting up 31 points. He was a key part of the Flyers' defense that played for a Stanley Cup in 2010, and he won that Cup with Chicago this spring. He was a four-time All-Star.
The case against
As reliable as Timonen was, he was best suited as a team’s second-best defenseman. He was expendable in Nashville because of the emergence of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and on that 2010 Flyers team it was Chris Pronger who was the unquestioned leader of the defense. The best finish Timonen ever had in the Norris Trophy voting came in 2007 when he was fifth, but even then he didn’t get any first-place votes in a race that came down to Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer. At other points in his career, he’d occasionally get a fourth or fifth-place Norris vote but never enough to make a serious run.
His 571 points are No. 41 all-time among NHL defenseman, impressive but not necessarily Hall-worthy. If his point total made him the most prolific Finnish defenseman of all-time there might be a stronger case, but Teppo Numminen currently holds that honor.
Incredible guy, great career, strong presence on defense and in the dressing room. Ultimately, though, Timonen was never a defenseman generally considered among the best of his generation, keeping him out of our Hall of Fame.