Dazzlers and Duds: Hartnell v. Timonen and Cechmanek v. Rathje

hartnell hulkamania

Image Courtesy of The Associated Press

Several weeks back, we asked our beloved Twitter followers who were their most loved and hated Flyers of the past decade. It led to some great names and some great discussion. Well it got us thinking. In the doldrums that is August in the hockey world — not to mention the impending doom of a lockout —  we decided to put together a tournament; poll style!

We’ve compiled the responses for both the Loved and Hated categories, and seeded them according to our whims and wishes. What you see before you is the result of our efforts. While we may not necessarily agree with some of the nominations, the people have spoken!

Over three weeks, beginning on Monday September 3rd, we will determine who is the most loved and the most hated Flyer of the past decade.

Each weekday we will post a new poll, containing one match-up for each bracket, both the Loved and the Hated. That poll will remain open until midnight of the same day — or, frankly, whenever we decide to tally the votes — where we will note the winners, and announce them the following day, along with the next day’s match-ups.

Ranting and raving about your love and/or hatred for the given players, is not only allowed, it is encouraged. I, for one, am excited to see the results for some of the more polarizing Flyers!

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Yesterday’s Results:
John LeClair takes down Peter Forsberg in virtually no contest, and Randy Jones outdoes Jaroslav Modry.

Today’s candidates: (Note: the authors of the write-ups below are not the individuals that nominated the player.)

Scott Hartnell:
write-up courtesy of Marcello De Feo

Very few players are able to straddle the line between hated and adored as well as Scott Hartnell. He’s lazy or he’s a workhorse. He gets under your skin but manages to earn your respect. He underperforms then overwhelms. You call him Fartsmell and he signs your jersey.

Despite circumstances that might draw the ire of Flyer fans (ie. hefty contract, no trade clause, lazy penalties), Scott Hartnell lives the dream we all secretly wish we could. Throughout his tenure in Philadelphia, he was an integral part of three of Philly’s most successful lines, while working hard every night and never hesitating to stick up for his teammates.

Most of all, Hartnell is a rare breed of sports hero who always lets his human side shine, good or bad. He threw his glove at Ryan Malone while Malone was on a breakaway. It became a joke and the Phantoms honored the incident with a Mitten Toss night. He took it all in stride.

He can stay on his feet as well as Happy Gilmore the first time on skates. When people joked about that, he turned the infamous #HartnellDown hash tag and turned it into a foundation to benefit the less fortunate.

He suffered through a rough divorce and it affected his job performance.

We can relate to this, empathize with it, and wish we were a little more like him. Scott Hartnell experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in Philadelphia.

Years after his career is over, we will come to fully appreciate all that he has done and all that has happened to him during his career. He is a legend in the making, fodder for books and movies to come.

Kimmo Timonen:
write-up courtesy of reader Ryan Wade

Kimmo Timonen is no stranger to awesomeness. He comes from a land that hosts world championships in wife carrying, boot throwing, and air guitar. And while his birth land may be far away in Finland, his story embodies all that is the American dream. Written off as an underdog after being taken in the tenth round of the 1993 draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Timonen showed enough potential to make his debut with the Nashville Predators in 1998. As so many of our forefathers have done, he seized the opportunity, quickly becoming not only an all-star, but also an alternate and then captain of the new franchise.

It was this Finnish God of Defense that the Philadelphia Flyers turned to after a 2006-2007 season that saw the orange and black concede 303 goals and their lowest point tally in history. Enter Kimmo Timonen. Since Timonen’s effortless skating, quick stick, and pinpoint passing (not to mention his hair – Have you ever seen hair flow like that?) entered the Flyers lineup, the club has made the playoffs every year.

Timonen has served as an alternate captain and a steadying influence on a group of emerging young talent while also averaging more than 40 points a season (missing only 13 games in five regular seasons in Philadelphia). Despite the respect and undoubted admiration of his peers, you still can’t find a Timonen Jersey or T-shirt for sale (that isn’t customized), while previous Flyer jerseys like JVR and Dan Carcillo (neither of which has put up more than 40 points in a season) were constantly marketed towards fans. But does Timonen care? No. Because Timonen is not about selling jerseys. He is about winning. Just like Philadelphia is about winning. And that is why he is the choice for the favorite Philadelphia Flyer.

Who is the more loved Flyer of the past decade, Hartnell or Timonen?

  • Kimmo Timonen (72%, 64 Votes)
  • Scott Hartnell (28%, 26 Votes)

Total Voters: 89

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Roman Cechmanek:
write-up courtesy of Bob H

How can you dislike a goaltender who made a meteoric rise from Europe to the AHL to the NHL at ludicrous speed, ranks second in franchise history in shutouts (20), tied for fourth in wins (92), and who has a specific kind of save (Cranium Carom) named after him?

Easy. Sit him in goal during a transitional period for the club where they failed to make it past the second round for three years running. Pick on his lack of communication in English. Or his demeanor which put off his teammates. Or the fact that he pushed Brian Boucher out of a starting job. Or his freak out at the end of Game 6 against Ottawa at home in 2003 which led to the infamous Daily News back page headline “Stinko de Flyo.”

Cechmanek was a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, buried under the existential dread of Eastern European existence. The antithesis of a true Flyer.

Mike Rathje:
write-up courtesy of Hal G

Let me take you back to the Summer of 2005. The NHL lock out had just ended and hockey was back. Players were shuffling to new teams and our beloved Flyers were looking to make a splash. First was Derien Hatcher (OH my God!), then it was Peter Forsberg (OH MY God!!), and finally, it was Mike Rathje (OH MY, wait what?).

Oh yes my friends. The free agency period of 2005 brought us one of my most hated players. Rathje signed a five year deal with the Flyers after nine decent years with San Jose. Rathje was just the plodding defenseman needed in the new “speed” NHL. Needless to say, Rathje’s Flyer career did not end well. He played 97 games as a Flyer and ultimately retired due to a bad back (or lack of speed). To this day, I believe the Flyers are still paying Rathje’s contract. This will go down as one of the worst signings in Flyer history and one of my most hated.

Who is the more hated Flyer of the past decade, Cechmanek or Rathje?

  • Mike Rathje (75%, 43 Votes)
  • Roman Cechmanek (25%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 57

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  • AxleLaRue

    Terribly difficult to separate #Hartnelldown and Kimmo. Toughest match-up in the brackets’ 1st round. Went w/ the steady D-man… Oh, and cannot vote on the “Hated”…could be my CPU…or there’s a problem. (For the record – Rathje by a MILE)

    • http://www.flyersfaithful.com/ Kevin Christmann

      Hmm. I did accidentally have the Hated Bracket locked by accident this morning. I’ve corrected that though.

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