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Future written in blood

Flyers D-man Timonen stable, but clots threaten possible final season

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PHILDELPHIA --Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen was in stable condition in a Finland hospital after blood clots were found in both of his lungs and his right calf, general manager Ron Hextall said Tuesday.

Hextall said the team believes it could be a "long-term situation." He said Timonen, 39, would be discharged from the hospital today but cannot travel for two to three weeks. The 15-year NHL veteran then will be evaluated by the team's medical staff, which has been in contact with the player's Finnish doctors, Hextall said.

"Can he play at some point next season? I don't have the answer to that," Hextall said. "First and foremost is we're worried about Kimmo the person, not the hockey player."

Timonen considered retiring after last season but signed a one-year contract extension in June that could be worth up to $3.5 million. He played 77 games last season, collecting six goals and 29 assists, and was named the team's best defender for the third straight year.

A blood clot in Timonen's left ankle sidelined him for the first four games of the 2008 Eastern Conference finals. That clot developed after he was struck by a puck during the previous playoff series against Montreal. Hextall said he did not know if Timonen's medical history caused him to be predisposed to blood clots.

"But I guess it's easy to speculate since it's happened again," the general manager said.

Hextall said he learned of Timonen's condition Monday morning. The defenceman felt pain in his calf and thought he had pulled a muscle. Timonen's friend, who Hextall said was a doctor, told him he should go to the hospital. Hextall said he had not talked to Timonen, but he said the defenceman sent him a text message.

"He seemed very frustrated," Hextall said. "But I think we're all happy for Kimmo and his three children that he's doing fine."

Hextall said the Flyers had been "looking at a few things" to improve the team over the last few weeks. Timonen's health, he said, will likely expedite those moves. The Flyers have zeroed in on defence in the last three drafts, selecting five blue-liners in the first three rounds.

Shayne Gostisbehere (third round, 2012) signed with the team in April after leading Union College to the NCAA title. Gostisbehere, 21, played two games last season with the Phantoms of the AHL.

If Gostisbehere does not make the Flyers, he will join Robert Hagg (second round, 2013) with the Phantoms. Samuel Morin (first round, 2013) is expected to spend his fourth-straight season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"I don't want to throw a kid into a situation that he's not ready for," Hextall said. "The way to protect yourself is to add a veteran if possible."

-- The Philadelphia Inquirer

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 D8

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