Teppo Numminen - Playing Career

Playing Career

Numminen started his career with his local team, Tappara, in the SM-liiga. Drafted twenty-ninth overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, Numminen moved to North America in 1988 to play for the Jets. He moved with the team as it became the Phoenix Coyotes before the 1996–97 season. He played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1999, 2000 and 2001. After fifteen seasons playing for the Winnipeg/Phoenix organization, Numminen was traded to the Dallas Stars in July, 2003, for Mike Sillinger. Numminen took a break from hockey during the 2004–05 NHL lockout, then signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabres.

On November 13, 2006, Numminen played his 1252nd game in the NHL and in the process, set a record for most NHL games played as a European-trained player, surpassing Jari Kurri . At the time of his retirement, Numminen was the last player from the 1986 NHL Entry Draft still playing in the NHL.

After signing a one-year contract for the 2007–08 NHL season, Numminen was forced to undergo open heart surgery before the start of the season. Numminen was suspended by the Buffalo Sabres when it was discovered he needed heart surgery. Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier stated the suspension was because his $2.6 million dollar contract was not insured, and the contract contains a clause that states the player must pass the physical and be fit to play.

Word came that Numminen's heart surgery was successful. Completed on September 20, 2007, at the Cleveland Clinic, the surgery was performed to repair a faulty valve. Numminen was able to return to action for the final game of the Sabres' 2007–08 season on April 5, 2008.

Per a statement by Buffalo Sabres GM Regier, Numminen expressed some interest in returning to NHL play for at least another year. On August 8, 2008, Numminen re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres.

He was the leader among active NHL players who played the most games without winning the Stanley Cup: 1,372 at the end of the 2008-09 season.

Numminen announced his retirement on August 4, 2009. The 41-year old finished his NHL career with 117 goals and 520 assists for 637 points in 1372 NHL games. At the time of his retirement, his 1372 NHL games were the most by a European-born and trained player at any position; this record would be broken by Nicklas Lidstrom in the 2009-10 season.

On January 30, 2010, the Phoenix Coyotes retired Numminen's #27. During his 15 seasons for the franchise (including their previous incarnation as the Winnipeg Jets) he played 1,098 games, a then franchise record. His 534 points are also a franchise record for defencemen.

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