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Catchin' Up with Kimmo

Also: Gagne update; Betts sees opportunity

Thursday, 09.10.2009 / 2:36 PM / News
By Kevin Kurz  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Catchin\' Up with Kimmo
(Voorhees, NJ) – Kimmo Timonen walked out of the player lounge/changing room at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone to a group of reporters hanging around the practice facility.

“Hey, good to see you guys. Not,” joked the personable defenseman.

Timonen has always been among the more thoughtful, insightful, and often times downright funny quotes in the locker room since coming to the club in the summer of 2007. About to enter his third season with the Flyers, he gave some candid opinions on a wide range of topics on Thursday as the team prepares to open training camp this weekend.

Among them, of course, is the acquisition of Chris Pronger, which gives the team one of the best 1-2 punches on the blue line in the entire NHL.
Kimmo Timonen is looking forward to being a part of a 1-2 punch on the blue line with Chris Pronger. (Getty Images)

“I think he adds confidence for the whole team,” said Timonen of Pronger. “Everybody knows what kind of player he is, what kind of person he is, and what he’s done in previous years. I think every time he is on the ice everybody is pretty confident. I’m sure he has a really good attitude for the locker room too, during the games and practice, and off the ice.”

Timonen was not surprised that the Flyers added a bonafide superstar this summer, but was thrilled when he heard it was Pronger.

“I knew that we were going to try to get some good player. But, obviously a guy of his caliber, it was unbelievable,” he said. “Like I said, the way he adds confidence to the whole team, that’s really the main thing.”

Spending eight years with Nashville, Timonen often went up against Pronger, who played with St. Louis, Edmonton and Anaheim. He thinks that the opposition can expect a hard time whenever Pronger is on the ice.

“There’s always battles when you play against him. We all know what kind of a player he is, and what he can bring to the team, and what kind of game he plays and it’s going to help us a lot.”

Timonen will be paired with Braydon Coburn for at least the beginning of camp. The two spent the majority of the last two seasons together, although Ryan Parent played with Timonen at the end of last season and in the first round of the playoffs.

It was suggested to Timonen from one writer that Coburn took a step back in his development last season, but Timonen doesn’t see it that way.

“As a young guy [he played] one good year [in 2007-08], and I always say the next year it’s even harder,” he explained. “Expectations are always higher. Everybody knows what you can do at every game.

“It’s not easy, but I think for now for [him], it’s easier to go into this season than he was going into the last season, because now he probably realized himself he can do better. You can expect him to be better. He’s looked really good on the ice, and he’s in good shape, so he’s going to have a good year, for sure.”

As for the rest of the roster…

“With the combination of the forwards that we have right now, I think that we have three really good lines. It’s going to be a battle for four line spots. We’ve got a ton of guys to get a spot on the team, and that’s a good situation going into training camp.

“Overall, as a team, I really, really like it.”

Gagne improving

There was a good sign today during the team’s informal skate, as Simon Gagne took to the ice with his teammates. He skated on his own on Tuesday and Wednesday while recovering from a slight right groin strain sustained during Team Canada’s Olympic camp last month.

“I pushed a little bit harder today,” he said. “It felt okay. It’s not the way that I want yet, but it’s getting there.

“I try to go out there and not think about it. That’s what I did today, but at the same time I was trying to be smart when I was going in the corner, battling for the puck. That might be the next step, to go full speed.”

Betts sees opportunity

Blair Betts, invited to training camp on a tryout basis, is hoping to land a spot on the club’s roster.

FlyersTV: Betts speaks

“I think there’s an opportunity. I don’t know how great of an opportunity it is, but I think the fact that they’ve seen me play [with the New York Rangers] over the last few years and know what I’ve done in New York and know my role there, they should have a pretty good idea of what I can contribute here. It’s just a matter of playing well during training camp.”

Betts sees the Flyers as a team that can make a deep playoff run, and would love to be a part of it.

“There’s a lot of talk that this team is going to be competing for the Stanley Cup, and I have to agree with them.”

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