Kimmo Timonen was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, developed into an all-star with the Nashville Predators and won the Stanley Cup last season with the Chicago Blackhawks.
But he still considers himself a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I was in Nashville for eight years and I was the captain there," Timonen said. "My kids were born in Nashville. So those memories are really nice. Here in Philly, I think my role was so good, and playing for the Flyers in front of these fans, it was something I'll remember for the rest of my life. … I think the Flyers are my No. 1 team."
Timonen, 40, will be honored by the Flyers on Wednesday prior to the game against the Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
"I'll be emotional, probably," Timonen said. "I was able to see [the Blackhawks'] season opener and banner-raising ceremony. It was something cool to see. I knew it was going to be the last time I'm going to see them probably. I had a good time there. But Wednesday is going to be another thing I'm going to really enjoy. I'm really honored to be there. I get to bring my parents to the game. So I'm looking forward to it."
Timonen's acquisition from the Predators on June 18, 2007 was a big reason the Flyers went from 30th in the NHL in 2006-07 to the 2008 Eastern Conference Final. In eight seasons with Philadelphia he had 270 points, third all-time among Flyers defensemen. He did not play for the Flyers last season after being diagnosed in August with blood clots in his lungs and lower right leg. When he was cleared to play, the Flyers traded him to the Blackhawks on Feb. 27.
He also helped the Flyers reach the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
"When we went to the Stanley Cup Final, I think Kimmo was playing his best hockey that I saw," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. "He was game in and game out so consistent. I remember … him playing very well every game."
Giroux was one of a number of young players who used Timonen as a role model. Though Timonen never served as captain with the Flyers, his words carried heft inside and outside the locker room.
"He wasn't always barking out orders, he wasn't always the most talkative guy," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said. "But when he said something it really resonated with most of the guys because Kimmo went out there and put his body on the line at every single point of the game. He was probably the best offensive defenseman and defensive defensemen at the same time. We learned a lot from Kimmo when he was playing with us.
"He had perfect timing. … When I got here I was sitting, listening to the things Kimmo had to say and the moment he had to say them. It was refreshing to see that type of leader."
Timonen could continue helping players as he transitions to life after hockey. He announced his retirement after the Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Cup Final.
He said he's talked to Flyers general manager Ron Hextall about a job, but said his first priority is spending time with his wife and children on their schedule, rather than the one he was on as a player. At some point though, he said coaching is something that appeals to him.
"The perfect situation would be some kind of coach," Timonen said. "I like to teach people. I like to talk to players, I like to give my opinion of what I see on the ice, what they can do better. At the same time, that kind of road, that's a big commitment. Once you want to be some kind of coach with the team, that's a 24/7 job. I'm not really ready to do that. But that would be the perfect job for me, to help the [defensemen] and just give them my opinion about the game, what I think they can do better, that kind of stuff. But that might be way down the road when the kids are out of the home and that kind of stuff.
"In the near future, hockey has been my life, so I understand what hockey is and what is a good team and what is a good player. If it's scouting or some kind of management job, I know my stuff; I know that. But at the same time I haven't really thought about what the role might be. I would like to help the Flyers down the road. When that is, I don't quite know yet."