Timonen Steps Up for Nashville

Originally published on EuroReport.com in 1999

By Lucas Aykroyd

Finnish country music is nothing to write home about. So it’s just as well Kimmo Timonen came to Nashville to play hockey instead of wailing ditties about the cheatin’ hearts and lil’ dogies of Helsinki. The 24-year-old native of Kuopio appears to be coming into his own as an NHL defenseman with the Predators. At 5-10 and 196 pounds, he’s smaller than average for his position, but he makes up for it with his offensive smarts. He spent four seasons with TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League, consistently scoring about half a point per game (80 points in 188 career matches). Also, he played six games for Finland’s bronze-medal squad at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Since debuting with Nashville on 16 December last year, Timonen has made steady progress. With 7 points in 9 games (1-6-7), he’s on pace to obliterate his personal best of 12 points from his rookie season. EuroReport’s Lucas Aykroyd caught up with Timonen not long after the Finn scored with 1:22 left in the third period in a 4-1 loss to Vancouver at GM Place on 30 October. Nashville’s second straight defeat dropped its record to 4-5-1 after a promising start. But on this dark night when the Nashville defense was more appalling than any Halloween costume you could imagine, the amiable Timonen managed to focus on the bright side.

EuroReport: Why are you off to such a fast start offensively this season?

Kimmo Timonen: The biggest reason is that I’ve got a lot of ice time on the power play, and we’ve got some good guys on the power play.

EuroReport: On the goal you scored, and on all the power plays, you moved in deep from the point like Sandis Ozolinsh does. When did you start doing that?

Timonen: Actually, our head coach, Barry Trotz, told me I need to get involved more and try to go back door. [Top Nashville center and leading scorer] Cliff Ronning controls the puck, and I just get in there and try to find open space.

EuroReport: Your team was going well until the last two games, San Jose and tonight. What’s been the main problem?

Timonen: I think we played pretty good in San Jose, even though we lost 3-2, but today was awful for everybody. I don’t know the reason why. The Canucks just played better than we did.

EuroReport: How do you like playing in a city that is known more for Shania Twain and Garth Brooks than for hockey?

Timonen: I like it. The crowd is unbelievable. They’re loud! And the rink is unbelievable too. The guys in the locker room are just great.

EuroReport: Do you hang out with Ville Peltonen much to get some Finnish culture in?

Timonen [laughing]: We are roommates so we hang out together a lot!

EuroReport: When you were growing up in Kuopio, who was your favorite player?

Timonen: There were so many players who were my idols. I think Jari Kurri, and Ray Bourque has always been my idol. And Reijo Ruotsalainen. It’s hard to say just one.

EuroReport: What are your personal goals for this season with Nashville?

Timonen: Try to play every game as good as possible. Get as much ice time as possible. Just play good. I don’t have any goals in terms of scoring points.

EuroReport: How difficult do you think it will be for the team to make the playoffs?

Timonen: It’s going to be hard, for everybody. It’s going to be a tough season, and there are so many games left. But if we play every game like we did a couple of games ago, instead of like today, we will see what happens.

del.icio.us Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

Leave a Reply