Following the trade announcement, Flyers GM Ron Hextall addressed the media via conference call to discuss how the trade with the Blackhawks came about, the return the Flyers got in for Timonen and how it sets up for Monday’s trade deadline. Below are excerpts from that conference call…
Did you think you’d be able to get a return like this considering he hasn’t played a game in 10 months?
Yeah, I did. There’s a few things working in your favor. First of all his cap number is friendly, so you have a team adding certainly a top four defenseman, maybe a top-two defenseman, at a cap number that is reasonable, so there’s value there. Not only are you getting a player, but you’re getting a damn good person too. A guy who’s going to work hard every day. He’s a consummate professional. He’s going to have a good influence on Chicago. Players like this don’t fall off trees. I understand he hasn’t played, but on the flip side of him not playing, he’s a rested hockey player and he’s probably in the best shape of his life.
Was this the plan all along?
I’ll tell you how it all started. Kimmo and I had a lot of talks just before he started skating. For about two weeks we were meeting a lot. So every day he’d come in for an update, or most days we’d talk about where he was at, how he felt, the doctor’s appointments or whatever else was going on. Part of the talks got to the point where OK, if we’re out of the playoffs… I asked Kimmo if he wanted to look at going somewhere and taking a run at winning a Stanley Cup. That point is when we both started thinking about the idea. Before that I don’t think he’d thought about it, and I hadn’t thought about it. I’m guessing here but I want to say we were 10 points out of a playoff spot and it wasn’t looking good, albeit never say never. So we started discussing it at that point, and I think that’s when both of us over the course of time got comfortable with it. Kimmo did not have a no-trade clause in his contract, but if Kimmo wouldn’t have been amicable to being traded, we would not have traded him. He’s meant too much to this organization to trade him if it was against his wishes. Over the course of time we both got comfortable with the idea, and then we’re sitting here now, we’re close to a playoff spot, so Kimmo and I went back and forth – do you want to go, do you not want to go, do we want to move you… it was a tough one. In the end, I guess when we talked we both came to the agreement that this is going to work for both sides. It gives him a chance to win the ultimate prize… and that’s not to say we don’t have a chance here, if you get in the playoffs you have a chance. But I think the security of Chicago being in the playoffs versus us being out of the playoffs at this point is probably the thing that I’m guessing pushed Kimmo over the edge.
Were there any other teams involved?
I had calls from other teams, and whenever I’d get a call I would talk to Kimmo about it. He knows everything that happened through this whole process, and again I wasn’t going to move him to a team he didn’t want to go to, nor would I have moved him if he didn’t want to be moved.
Do you worry about what the guys in the room think about this? That it makes guys think you’re sellers and you’re not staying as is for the last 20 games?
I don’t necessarily believe that. You’ve got to remember, Kimmo hasn’t played for us all year. I think we’re 62 games deep here, and we haven’t had him play a game. I don’t look at this like we’ve taken away from our team. [Our current team] has done a great job in the last month, and we’ve got to keep moving here. We’ve got a lot of ground to catch and fighting the three teams right now, so we’ve got to get going. Focus shouldn’t be the fact that we’re looking at the future, because we’re four points out right now and we’ve got to win hockey games.
How have the last two weeks impacted your trade talks?
Well, people call back and they ask what you’re looking to do. Obviously we’re creeping up and getting close here, but there’s a certain price where you’ll take a look at different things. This is an active time of the year. It’s a time of year where you have to listen and you have to assess anything that’s kind of thrown your way, and look at today and look at tomorrow and make hard decisions. It’s an intense time of year for us.